The BEST project

The Project “Business Education for Sustainability: Teaching Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Local and Regional Development”(BEST) is supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, Strategic Partnerships addressing more than one field, with a  focus on Higher Education.

Project objectives:

  •  To contribute to research and best practices exchange in the field of social entrepreneurship, social innovation and corporate responsibility, with special focus on the situation in the participating countries
  • To develop innovative curricula and teaching materials that fully integrate the subjects of social entrepreneurship and CSR into business/economics education and pay attention to pressing challenges facing modern societie

Outputs of the project:

  • Research report “Involvement of business in promoting sustainable development at the regional and local levels in Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and the UK”
  • Good practices compendium followed by the creation of an electronic database “Millennial Business Europe: Entrepreneurship for Sustainability”
  • Course syllabuses, training and teaching materials for corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship and sustainable development
  • E-learning platform with online courses
  • Model procedure for certification of skills and competences acquired by volunteers through participation in corporate responsibility initiatives
  • Establishment of a Center for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Development of a label for business education “Business Education for Sustainability” (BEST)
  • National conferences “Business Education for Sustainability” in the project countries

 

Rationale of the Project:

The project focuses on corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. In the context of the prolonged economic crisis and pressing societal challenges, public funds are becoming increasingly insufficient to adequately address social problems, while initiatives in the non-profit sector are often too unsustainable and donor-driven to achieve a lasting impact. Societies in Europe and beyond are therefore looking up to business to assume a greater share of the responsibility for social welfare and environmental sustainability. The consequences of the economic crisis have heightened public expectations and attention to long-term strategic corporate social responsibility and the ethical behavior of firms. At the same time, a substratum of business – the so called social entrepreneurs – have proven able to find innovative solutions to pressing social problems while still operating in a market-driven and entrepreneurial fashion.

Business, responsibility and innovation can go together, bridging social and economic priorities and working for the benefit of societies. Indeed, one of Europe’s key tasks is to create the conditions that they do so. A lot remains to be done. One unfinished task is to fully address the skills needs of social business through education programs. The efforts of the BEST partner organizations are geared in this direction. We hope that our work and the results of this project will raise awareness of the challenges, engage stakeholders and garner support for teaching sustainability in business education.

Education should foster the right mindset and build appropriate skills for social business. Social entrepreneurship remains under-promoted and rarely included in the initial and further training of business leaders and employees, while Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is still not well integrated into business education. The policy priority is therefore to include these subjects in the content of education programmes, and to develop channels for the development of skills and the exchange of knowledge and experience.

The  project’s overarching task will be to achieve genuine cross fertilization between business studies and disciplines related to sustainable development and public policy. In this way, education would encourage a new mindset geared towards socially responsible business conduct and would foster more complete understanding of pressing social needs and challenges. This approach will help equip future business leaders with skills to identify new business opportunities within particular social and environmental problems and to seek synergies between public and private sustainability initiatives at the community and regional levels.