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Service-Learning Initiatives

& the Challenges of Unstable Environments

 

FEATURED PAPER

By Mohamad-Fadl Haraké, Lola Saliba, Maryam Audeh Ibrahim and Nazleh Moussa

Beirut, Lebanon

 


 

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to explore the impact & implication of higher education entities within the context of ‘’Service-Learning’’ regarding the incubation of sustainable-non-profitable projects that have communal impact that are proposed and piloted by students. The study also highlights the many challenges that can be faced when trying to implement such extra-curricular initiatives in a post-war country, where public services are either poorly delivered or completely deteriorated and social capital is relatively inexistent. First a training seminar was provided by a World Bank youth advisor that introduced the concepts of ‘’Hybrid Transformational Change Management & Conscious Leadership’’ and outlined the role of today’s youth in emancipating the deprived communities. We then examined the structure and dynamics of AUL’s School of Business course curriculum that had social-implications – and proposed several socially-responsible topics to the students’ community and provided students with tools, processes, concepts, business modeling and ideation, etc. through the means of extensive trainings. Thirdly, we initiated an informal student’s service club that aimed to assist students in developing entrepreneurial skills, learn to assess communal socio-economic needs, in order to deliver social impact within the campus’s surrounding communities – within the banner of ‘’civic engagement’’. Finally, students were invited to propose topics within a Project Management Process that went in line with the UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Eventually such topics will go through a thorough evaluation process where one will be chosen by a designated committee– in order to receive the required funding  (if any is required) to get implemented by the students’ club and managed by a third party. The results indicate how students actually benefited from structured a ‘’learning by doing’’ process that enabled them to gradually become ‘’Social-Public Entrepreneurs’’ thus highlighting a new aspect of the ‘’Student Involvement Theory’’.

Keywords: Post-War Countries, Service-Learning Initiatives, Public Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Responsible Management, Trans-disciplinary transformational change Projects, Civic-Engagement, Experiential Learning, Lebanon

INTRODUCTION

Today, more than ever, we are witnessing a great interest in Social Responsibility of the business world (among both practitioners and academicians) as any entity is not solely expected to be responsible to its stakeholders but to society in general (Nejati et al. 2011). Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have been a fixture in today’s world business environment and has become embedded in many higher education institutes in general as a tool to seek alternative ways to achieve sustainability (Brown & Cloke, 2009). Higher Education Institutions in general (e.g. Research Centers, Laboratories, etc.) and Universities in particular play a focal role – through teaching, research and experimentation, in molding the youths’ mind, initiating knowledge & sharing it, solving the world’s problems, etc. (Gray et al., 1999; Abdul Rahman & Castka, 2019). In this context, it would be appropriate to ask the following: Are universities and academic institutes actually concerned and committed to their social responsibility? And if they do, to what extent?

Higher education institutions are responsible towards their societies when it comes to educating young ‘’entrepreneurs’’ who will be participating in the all-in-all communal build-up (Fernández, 2010). This fact, is even more urgent in Lebanon given that: (1) the country is suffering Post-Conflict public services absence since approximately forty five years (since the outbreak of the civil war of 1975-1990); (2) the ongoing critical financial crisis that peaked in 2019-2020; and (3) the current COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. Hence, institutionalizing students’ participation in social service is viewed by many experts as primordial within the context of social commitment linked to citizenship (Bringle & Hatcher, 2000; Hébert & Hauf, 2015). By ‘’community service’’, we mean ‘’social-devotion’’ where a student, and with the support of his / her peers and faculty as well, will be investing his / her time, knowledge and ressources to the service of the society (Gray et al., 1999). Such work will show how the student actually benefited from his / her courses by putting his / her skills into action, foster leadership abilities, etc. (Baxter, 1996; Sax & Astin, 1997; Eyler & Giles, 1997). This will also provide the student with social-work experience in general and Project Management expertise in Particular (Butin, 2010). Hence, we find ourselves in front of a new research dilemma: How can higher education entities (faculties and students included) actually get implicated in the all-in-all delivery of critical service-learning experiences and become transformational-change leaders for their communities? In order to properly answer our research question, the study will have the following structure:

  • First, we will start by conducting a review of the current existing literature in order to present the various approaches of our subject. We will check the basic foundation of social entrepreneurship and civic engagement, its conceptual framework, as well as its application. We will then be talking about the role of academic institutions that are becoming more and more socially-responsible as contributors to their communities’ well-being by providing a climate for community-development initiatives and acting as catalysts for sustainability and professional development.
  • We will then be introducing our methodology part where we will explain our empirical observations and interpretation of our research results. This will lead us to analyze the relevance of our research framework in order to review our questions and objectives with regards to our exploratory work.
  • We will finally be discussing the results of our empirical findings and linking them to the concepts of ‘’Service Learning’’ & ‘’Conscious Change Leadership’’ by taking as examples the higher academic institutions who’s’ work do constitute an emancipation factor for the deprived communities in Post-War countries.

 

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How to cite this paper: Haraké, M-F.; Saliba, L.; Audeh Ibrahim, M.; Moussa, N. (2020). Service-Learning Initiatives & the Challenges of Unstable Environments; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/pmwj94-Jun2020-Harake-Saliba-Ibrahim-Moussa-service-learning-initiatives.pdf

 


 

About the Authors

 

Mohamad-Fadl Haraké

France – Lebanon

 

Mohamad-Fadl Haraké is a Doctoral Researcher at CEREGE EA 1722, University of Poitiers (IAE) and a Lecturer and Researcher at the School of Business at Arts, Sciences and Technology University in Lebanon (AUL). His research interests include Public Management, Public Entrepreneurship, and Post-Modern Public Management, Hybrid Organizations, etc. in Post-Conflict countries. He is a member of the AIRMAP, the IRSPM and the PMRA. He can be contacted at mh024@live.aul.edu.lb or mohamed.fadl.harake@univ-poitiers.fr

 


Lola Saliba

Lebanon

 

Lola Saliba is Student researcher at the school of Business Jadra-campus at Arts, Sciences and Technology University of Lebanon (AUL). She is also an I.R.C.A certified lead auditor in quality management since 2014 and worked as management consultant and quality manager in reputable companies. In addition to her studies in Business Management at (AUL), she received her O.S.H.A certificate from the U.S.A. as a safety supervisor for general industry in 2017. She was assigned as a board member in a local N.G.O for four consecutive years, studied and received a diploma in N.G.O management from La Sagesse University in April 2018. She can be contacted at lrs002@live.aul.edu.lb .

 


Maryam Audeh Ibrahim

Lebanon

 

Maryam Audeh Ibrahim is a student researcher majoring in Business Management at Arts, Science, and Technology University in Lebanon. Her research interests involve business in arts, marketing, and business development. She can be contacted through mai033@live.aul.edu.lb

 


Nazleh Moussa

Lebanon

 

Nazleh Moussa is an academic coordinator, lecturer and researcher at the School of Business Jadra-campus at Arts, Sciences & Technology University in Lebanon (AUL). Her research interest cover the various areas of accounting, micro and macro finance. She can be contacted at nazleh.mousa@aul.edu.lb

 

 

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