Read the University's new Social and Civic Responsibility plan

Social and Civic Responsibility is one of the four areas of focus in Strategy 2030. Find out what it means and what the University is doing to have a positive impact on society.

In April 2020 the University Executive approved a new Social and Civic Responsibility Plan . This plan sets out how the University will work towards Strategy 2030's vision to make the world a better place, and ensure that its actions and activities deliver positive change locally, regionally and globally.

What is social and civic responsibility?

SDGs Sustainable development goals

Social and civic responsibility means helping to shape society in a positive way, such as by reducing inequalities or improving environmental protection.

As a large organisation, the University's operations can have both positive and negative impacts on people and the natural environment, both locally and globally. By focusing its efforts on social and civic responsibility, the University actively chooses to increase the positive impacts it has - such as by ensuring greater access to education - and actively seeks to reduce any negative impacts - such as carbon emissions.

The University uses the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals as a guide: 17 things humanity must do to ensure peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

The University's Social and Civic Responsibility Plan

The University's Social and Civic Responsibility Plan sets out three objectives and one cross-cutting theme in order to fulfil the University's social and civic responsibilities:

  1. We will become a zero carbon and zero waste University
  2. We will widen participation in higher education and support inclusion
  3. We will work together with local communities
  • Cross-cutting theme: In our operations, research and teaching, we will engage critically with, and contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals


I am delighted that we have this plan setting out our commitments to addressing local and global sustainable development challenges. The challenges are complex but the innovation, creativity, knowledge, experience and actions of our students and our staff will make a difference. Plans are important but it's our actions that count. We hope everyone will take action and get involved.

Michelle BrownDeputy Director, Social Responsibility and Sustainability and Head of SRS Programmes

Sustainability (and Social Responsibility) Policy

A Sustainability (and Social Responsibility) Policy was also approved in April 2020. This policy sets the University's commitment to sustainability (and social responsibility), the expectations for staff and students around the University, and actions that the whole University community can take to be more sustainable and socially responsible.

Get involved

There are lots of ways for students and staff to get involved with social and civic responsibility at the University of Edinburgh; here are our top picks.

Zero carbon and zero waste

Become a Sustainability Champion Students: make sustainability part of your studies

Take part in the Sustainability Awards Apply for the Sustainable Campus Fund

Widening participation

Learn about Widening Participation projects

Working with local communities

Learn about community projects Become a Digital Inclusion volunteer

Staff: paid leave to volunteer in the community Email Edinburgh Local to join the community engagement forum

Join the University's community-focused newsletter