Something Happening Here
“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear”. Steven Stills wrote those lyrics to recognize the angst of west coast youth protestors many years ago. We need to look no further than more recent gatherings in Zuccotti Park in New York, Victoria Park in Halifax or Confederation Park in Ottawa to realize that Buffalo Springfield’s iconic song can be applied today in much the same way as when it was first performed nearly 45 years ago.
This is a unique time in our history. To paraphrase University of Pennsylvania professor Matt Hartley, “We are a fragile democracy. We are a fragile democracy because every democracy is fragile”. To that end, I would suggest that the real challenge to address this fragility is not the specific issue of the day. Rather, it is the task to create opportunities to engage our community in ways that will address some of the larger corporate and community challenges we face. The good news is that when it comes to creating positive change, post secondary institutions in Canada have over 100 years of evidence that they are in a position to address this challenge.
Corporate and Community Social Responsibility
One could argue that nearly every social change in North America started to some degree on a higher education campus. This is why five educational institutions align their efforts every year to host Canada’s largest Corporate and Community Social Responsibility Conference. In addition to Algonquin College, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo and Red River College come together to show a coordinated commitment to this cause.
Colleges and universities are very important institution in our society but they cannot address all issues alone. The 2011 CCSR Conference welcomed a range of thought leaders including Roseann Runte, Rahul Singh and Justin Trudeau. Representatives from corporate icons such as Air Miles, Home Depot and Boston
Consulting Group joined these individuals. Collectively, they inspired, educated and raised our social consciousness regarding the importance and impact that effective corporate and community social responsibility can have on our society.
Algonquin College cares deeply about issues of practice. Creating and coordinating the Corporate and Community Social Responsibility Conference is another example of how one College can make a difference; we know there is something happening and our commitment to make positive change is clear.
*Adapted from the author’s Opening Address at the sold out 2011 4th Annual Corporate and Community Social Responsibility Conference Gala hosted at Algonquin College.