Types of Social Responsibility

The concept of social responsibility was originally created for businesses to self-regulate that they were acting in the best interests of society and now solely the best interest of their company. Within the larger umbrella of social responsibility there are a number of more specific types of social responsibility that individuals can integrate into their personal and professional practice. These types include:

  • Philanthropic -  A commitment to be a good citizen, contribute resources to the community, and strive to actively improve quality of life for others.
  • Environmental - A commitment to operating in ways that prioritize environmentally friendly practices.
  • Ethical - A commitment to avoid harm and do what is right and just.
  • Legal - A commitment to follow the laws set by society, in relation to what is right and wrong.
  • Economic - A commitment to grounding financial decisions in a commitment to do good in the other areas of social responsibility. This can include decisions about how money is spent and where money comes from. 

Using the worksheet below, consider what social responsibility means to you and how you would like into integrate it into your daily life and professional practice.

Integrating social responsibility

Based on types of social responsibility as outlined in Carroll's Pyramid of Social Responsibility and Types of Corporate Social Responsibility outlined by Harvard Business School.

Science and Social Responsibility

You might be wondering how you can maintain social responsibility in the world of science. Below, you'll find a few examples of where the two collide.

  • Ethical research, specifically the impact of your work and the process you take to achieve it
  • Utilizing more sustainable items and materials
  • Advocating for a person or community needs
  • Being conscious of where you invest your dollars
  • Understanding the oaths you take and actively practicing it 

However, not every situation that involves social responsibility in science is as evident as the examples listed above. Life is complex and you may find yourself in a situation without a clear right answer, but rather a range of right answers that depends on you and/or your organization's values and desired outcome. 

Using the worksheet below, examine how social responsibility and science intersects by applying the RIGHT Decision Model to the provided case studies.

Ethical dilemma case studies

Science with society - Being responsible for your research

Science has the capacity to solve complicated challenges facing our world, but it can also be used in harmful ways. This video explores the responsibility scientists have in ensuring discoveries are not used in harmful ways.

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ARTICLE: Socially responsible science is more than good science

The article by Stephanie J. Bird explores what it means to do science and what a scientist's duties are in using science.

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PODCAST: Responsible science

Listen to a five-part podcast where multiple scientists discuss what their responsibility is to science.

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