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Civic activism in universities? – Social responsibility at Corvinus

2021-08-10 09:11:12

Dr. Gabriella Kiss is an associate professor and Fanni Nyírő, an activist at Extinction Rebellion Hungary

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Open science, sustainability, morality and selfishness – these best describe social responsibility, according to Dr Gabriella Kiss, associate professor and Fanni Nyírő, activist of Extinction Rebellion Hungary. They work in different worlds, yet have similar ideas about academic and civic social responsibility. How is the climate crisis related to social responsibility? Is there a link between universities and activist movements?

For me, social responsibility is both virtuous behaviour and selfishness, because together with social responsibility, the climate crisis has become so much a part of our present that it is now not only about our grandchildren, but also about us. If we act, we act not only for them, but also for ourselves, says Fanni Nyírő, an activist with Extinction Rebellion.

Social responsibility is a concept often used by companies, individuals and institutions, but it means different things to different actors. “From a university perspective, the concept of open science is closely related to social responsibility, since full accessibility and transparency allow society as a whole to benefit from the research conducted at universities, and universities serve society rather than themselves,” says Dr Gabriella Kiss, associate professor and member of the Corvinus Science Shop teaching community.

The Extenction Rebellion (XR for short), of which Fanni is a member, is an international environmental movement. Launched in 2018 in the UK, since then 650 different XR groups have been formed in 45 countries.

At both international and local level, we reject hierarchy: there is no hierarchy of subordination and superiority between, for example, the Hungarian and British XRs, and here at home, within our group, there is no hierarchy, no leader of the organisation. It also enables us to distance ourselves completely if International XR does something we don’t agree with,” says Fanni.

XR is not only an environmental organisation, it is also a social organisation: it stands up for social inequalities. This is important, among other reasons, because the climate crisis affects vulnerable groups differently, often more severely. Overall, this also means that XR is an intersectional environmental organisation.

The XR operating in Hungary is partly different from other international organisations: while in other countries non-violent civil disobedience is typical, in Hungary it is less common, as there is no tradition of it. Instead, XR is happy to organise demonstrations, even in cooperation with other environmental organisations such as Fridays for Future. These include protests – most recently to protect Lake Fertő – and spectacular actions such as Die In and Red Rebel. “Unfortunately, the epidemic has made these a bit impossible, it’s difficult to be present in the public sphere, in the public discourse, using traditional means,” says Fanni.

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GEN.:2024.04.17. - 00:05:53