The Many Contexts of the Social Responsibilities of Universities

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Colin Brock
Zhou Zhong


It has long been established that universities have three main functions: to teach, to research and supervise research, and to benefit the communities and regions in which they are located. In reality, the third main function permeates the other two. There are clearly social responsibilities to the students and to the staff who teach them and/or maintain their well-being through administration and other services such as counselling. Including issues of physical, social and economic well-being in their research portfolios is also common, though not universal. In this paper, we take a spatial scale approach to social responsibilities, which can take us from social responsibilities within the university, through what might be termed ‘civic responsibilities’, on to the immediate populations of a town or city, and then to ‘regional and international responsibilities’. The impact of the COVID19 pandemic in line with the sector’s social responsibility dynamic is also examined.


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