Conferences 2018

Openness and social responsibility

2nd March 2018, SWPS University

The conference was organized by the Commission for Communication and Social Responsibility of Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (KRASP), Institute of Contemporary Civilization Problems named after Marek Dietrich (IPWC) and the SWPS University. The latter one is also the host of the event.

The previous conference in this series concerned the autonomy of universities was organized at the Warsaw University of Technology in cooperation of its authorities. During the debate, the issue of social responsibility of universities for decision talking process, including education of young people, was highlighted. During the forthcoming conference this problem was the main problem of the debate. Political and social fluctuations and technological changes pose serious challenges for young people. It cannot be ascertained that they are already well prepared to participate in social life and to use new technologies in a responsible manner.

In principle, universities prepare students properly for their professional roles. However, the mass media stress some social expectations and need for practical skills. Utilitarian way of thinking prevails. The so-called employability remains the main indicator for studies assessment. Getting a job just after graduation does not however mean that a graduate is well prepared and will keep on working in the future. Due to the aforesaid changes employees will have to react in the future to them in order to stay on the market. They should be “flexible”. What’s more, students should not only get professional qualifications, which today also include various soft skills, such as ability to interact with others in the workplace. After graduation young people should be active members of the community, also outside the place of employment. Therefore, educational goals should be seriously rethought, so that our students are well prepared for active life among people, for performing civic roles.

When implementing this task, we cannot limit ourselves only to giving advice how to deal with different social situations. This is not just about the manner of behaviour. Unfortunately, even brief observations, but also sociological studies, show how important is the meaning of the behavioural style itself in determining the identity of young people. The significance of values and the need to manage them in the social space is losing importance. A certain remedy for this state of affairs may be inclusion in the process of educating young people of liberal arts in their contemporary understanding, such as art, humanities and social sciences.

Technological changes, including development of social media, create great opportunities for fast and easy communication. However, new technologies not only facilitate communication between people, but also can introduce huge divisions and gaps between them. The dynamics of group activities using social media even deepens these differences, such as liking and hating. Groups of young people tend to be more and more alike; this process is also facilitated by idealization of one’s own group and development of group narcissism; the differences between groups also become bigger by making a reference to relatively homogeneous sources of information. According to this philosophy others are not only different from us, but they are also worse; even more – they become our enemies. This is a problem of extraordinary social importance that only can be highlighted during our meeting. The next conference will be devoted to the issue of hostility towards ‘strangers’.

Certainly, there are also other risks associated with new technologies, such as manipulation of the social opinion. Young people should develop openness to what is new or different, but also they should be able to use new opportunities in a responsible way, and also be aware of various threats that are associated with them.

Our deliberations made it possible to refer to the current and expected circumstances in relation to the aforesaid issues, and hopefully in our summary we will indicate actions that could bring us closer to the desired conditions of our social life.

The conference was opened by professors: Jan Szmidt, Rector of the Warsaw University of Technology, Tomasz Borecki, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Civilization Problems named after Marek Dietrich, Roman Cieślak, Rector of the University SWPS, Andrzej Eliasz, Chairman of the Commission for Communication and Social Responsibility of Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland.

The lectures were given by: prof. Izabela Krejtz (University SWPS), prof. Mirosław Kofta (Warsaw University), prof. Andrzej Nowak (Warsaw University), dr Dominik Batorski (Warsaw University), dr Michał Boni (European Parliament), prof. Wiesław Banyś (the Main Board of Science and Higher Education), prof. Zbigniew Marciniak (Warsaw University, Main Board of Science and Higher Education).

During the conference, there was also a discussion panel. The discussion was led by prof. Krystyna Skarżyńska (University SWPS), participants of the panel were professors: Anna Giza-Poleszczuk (Warsaw University), Andrzej Koźmiński (Kozminski University), Jacek Raciborski (Warsaw University), Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski (European Parliament).