The Social Responsibility (SR) is a concept that most of the people relate to the Corporate field. However, according to ISO 26000 standard, SR is to act “in an ethical and transparent way that contributes to the health and welfare of society”. Therefore, the public sector should be, by nature, more interested in the consequences of the actions of an organization (either public or private) on the society. Universities are institutions that have a huge impact on the surrounding society, and furthermore they work in fields such as education and research in which Social Responsibility becomes utterly important. On an international level, some important steps that took place in the last two decades have to be taken into account in order to understand the process of extension of the concept of SR from the Corporate field to HE. The World Declaration on Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century drawn up at the World Conference of Higher Education organized by UNESCO in Paris in 1998, the Communication of the 2009 UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, Paris, 2009 held in compliance with the list of objectives of the Bologna Process, started to highlight that SR is increasingly considered as an intrinsic aspect of the higher education system.
Considering the needs of fostering a more effective and efficient university governance model, rewarding innovation and community-relevance and building a more connected HE system to the surrounding communities, the EUSRExcel project aims at contributing to general objective of developing a common understanding and commitment to USR in Europe by creating on the one side a European framework of USR harmonized indicators to be used as theoretical reference for the University management boards, and on the other side a practical tool to officially evaluate the commitment of the Universities to USR and reward them with a new USR Quality Seal based on the previously mentioned indicators. The project activities will be directly addressed to the members of the management boards, administrative staff, professors and researchers of HEIs in order to promote the institutionalization of the USR in the University governance and foster a more effective HEI model connected to the communities. To reach these goals, EUSRExcel will implement knowledge, tools and trainings that will eventually motivate HEIs internal stakeholders to develop strategic plans that will support engaged HEIs to cope with the emerging societal challenges.