Traditionally, universities are committed to the missions of conducting research and teaching. Recently, they were also called to contribute to supporting sustainable development in society. Many universities worldwide have experienced sustainability and social reporting practices to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. However, while sustainability reporting represents the primary means to communicate this commitment externally, research has barely unveiled how universities use other communication technologies, such as social media. This study investigates how universities use social media to engage their stakeholders in their sustainability initiatives and how this is associated with their sustainability reporting practices. We examine some best practices from Italian public universities, which, in addition to their experience in sustainability reporting, use social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to create a dialogue with their stakeholders about sustainability. We find that sustainability reporting is often the seed to instil innovative means for stakeholder engagement through social media. The universities with long-standing and continuous sustainability reporting experience use social media to enhance their communication, engage stakeholders and thereby improve their sustainability reporting practices. More worthily, we find that social media is also used as an educational tool to make people aware and foster a culture ofsustainability in society.

Social Media for Engaging and Educating: From Universities’ Sustainability Reporting to Dialogic Communication

Di Tullio Patrizia
;
Matteo La Torre;Michele Rea
2021-01-01

Abstract

Traditionally, universities are committed to the missions of conducting research and teaching. Recently, they were also called to contribute to supporting sustainable development in society. Many universities worldwide have experienced sustainability and social reporting practices to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. However, while sustainability reporting represents the primary means to communicate this commitment externally, research has barely unveiled how universities use other communication technologies, such as social media. This study investigates how universities use social media to engage their stakeholders in their sustainability initiatives and how this is associated with their sustainability reporting practices. We examine some best practices from Italian public universities, which, in addition to their experience in sustainability reporting, use social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to create a dialogue with their stakeholders about sustainability. We find that sustainability reporting is often the seed to instil innovative means for stakeholder engagement through social media. The universities with long-standing and continuous sustainability reporting experience use social media to enhance their communication, engage stakeholders and thereby improve their sustainability reporting practices. More worthily, we find that social media is also used as an educational tool to make people aware and foster a culture ofsustainability in society.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/762773
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