One of the best known definitions of sustainable development is the one formulated by the Brundtland Commission (Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development) in 1987, which states that: "It is development that meets the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Over the last few years, the concept of sustainability has been gaining more and more importance and support among the majority of today's society, which is now, more than ever, convinced of the need to change our way of acting in favor of a fairer and more caring world. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a challenge to transform the world and recognizes the existence of poverty, in all its forms, as the greatest challenge facing humanity.
The business world, civil organizations and public authorities are committed to achieving sustainable development in their spheres of action. Sustainability being the goal to be achieved by all, the most effective and important instrument for this is the socially responsible and ethical behavior of any organization, institution and individual. In this way, the transversal integration of the economic, social, environmental, labor and human rights dimensions in the policies and management systems of companies and other public and private organizations, in a global context, becomes the main lever to achieve the change in the current model of society that we desire.
Over the years we have seen how CSR has evolved from a voluntarist approach, in which companies use it to improve their reputation and competitiveness, to a much more regulatory approach with the intervention of the public authorities. The field where this is most evident is that of corporate transparency. In Europe, as a result of the Commission's Non-Financial Reporting Directive 2014/95 (NFRD) (European Commission, 2014), some 11,700 companies are required to incorporate in their management report information on environmental and social policies, risks and performance, as well as information concerning their employees, respect for human rights, the fight against corruption and bribery, and diversity in the composition of the board of directors. The number of companies will be expanded if the current draft of the proposed new NFRD is finally approved, which envisages reducing the requirements for companies to comply with the obligations to provide non-financial information.
In addition, there is a growing financial regulation stemming from the European Commission's sustainable finance plan (EC, 2018) that aims to improve the assessment of climate and social risks and will oblige European financial institutions to analyze their investment and credit portfolios according to these risks, which will undoubtedly put pressure on non-financial companies to increase the quality of their performance information and accelerate the interest of companies and their boards of directors in sustainability and the company's impacts on society.
Multinational companies are already integrating governance, social and environmental considerations and have qualified professionals and departments to design and develop their strategies. But SMEs are also becoming increasingly aware that value generation and long-term sustainability involve managing ESG aspects that have an impact on financial results and will be increasingly demanded by their customers (companies or end consumers), financiers and regulators. Likewise, interest in this subject is growing among non-governmental and public organizations, which see how the Welfare State and social development require greater commitment and better behavior from the private sector and exercise greater social control together with other representatives of civil society and the public promotion of CSR and sustainable development.
The academic world is also aware that it cannot and should not be left out of this process of promoting CSR, and therefore sustainability. In the European Commission's 2006 Communication Implementing the partnership for growth and jobs: making Europe a pole of excellence on corporate social responsibility on CSR, the Commission highlights the need to promote multidisciplinary research into CSR and the relationship between CSR, competitiveness and sustainable development.
The interuniversity master's degree in Sustainability and CSR of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of the UNED is an official interuniversity master's degree that is taught jointly by the UNED and the Universitat Jaume I (UJI). Its faculty is mainly from both universities, although it also has academic experts and professionals from other institutions. It has 15 years of experience and almost 700 graduates. It responds to the purposes of both universities (UNED and UJI) to play a relevant role in the development of a knowledge-based society, the promotion of progress and the improvement of the quality of life in general, as it broadens and deepens the knowledge that its students will have in social, economic, environmental, ethical, human rights and sustainable development issues, which are the fundamental basis for achieving these objectives.
It is structured under the European credit system (ECTS) and offers students the possibility of designing their own curricular itinerary, choosing among the modules offered those that best correspond to their academic and professional concerns and expectations. Likewise, the evaluation systems, together with the profile and extensive teaching and research experience of the teaching staff, will be a guarantee for the quality of the Master's Degree.
To pass the 60 credits of the master's degree, students must pass the two compulsory core subjects (Introduction to Sustainability and CSR (5 ECTS) and Dimensions of CSR (15 ECTS); and another two optional subjects of 15 ECTS each, to be chosen from a range of six subjects, including Sustainable Finance. To this must be added the Master's thesis, which is equivalent to 10 ECTS. In addition, for students who do not have a degree in economics, business, tourism, or similar subjects, or who do not have knowledge of accounting, finance, taxation, economics or business administration, it is mandatory to take the additional 15 ECTS of the complementary training course. The master's degree passed its second renewal of accreditation by ANECA on January 26, 2019.
This postgraduate program is adapted to the requirements of higher education within the framework of the Bologna Process, under the vision of a common and harmonized European Higher Education Area at European level. From this perspective, the Master seeks to promote and encourage quality in teaching, autonomous learning and lifelong learning, the employability of graduates, as well as the flexibility of studies. Likewise, the virtual mode of delivery of the Master aims to facilitate access to this Master to the largest number of students residing both in Spain and abroad, clearly betting on the international dimension of European education.
The educational model of the UNED is an educational model based on modern learning theories that consider that the direct teacher-student relationship is not essential, since it is possible to learn individually certain scientific content, provided that appropriate materials and technological resources are used and mechanisms of interaction between teacher and students that allow the control of the course and, ultimately, the evaluation of knowledge.
The professor will promote in the student a growing autonomy in the acquisition of new knowledge and the development of reflection capacities, as well as the use of specialized instruments and languages, the use of documentation and mastery of the scientific and professional field of each of the specialties. In short, it will try to advise and motivate the student so that he/she can acquire contents, master study techniques and acquire the critical capacity that working life will require in the future.
Main characteristics of distance learning
Teacher-student separation: Fundamentally deferred in space and time.
Use of technical means: Printed and multimedia material
Tutorial support organization: Individual learning, but with institutional support. Face-to-face meetings in the form of group tutorials.
Independent and flexible learning: Empowers the student to learn how to learn, building autonomy in terms of time, style, pace, and method of learning.
Two-way communication: The student can intervene by proposing various questions to the teachers to clarify foreseeable doubts or expand their knowledge, as well as make suggestions regarding the design of the course, the structure of the materials or the development of the learning process itself.