IN4SOC: internships to strengthen engagement in social responsibility

The University of Bordeaux, in partnership with four other European universities, is a member of the IN4SOC Erasmus+ project, dedicated to internships for enhancing social and civic key competences for lifelong learning.

  • 16/11/2020

Launched in 2018 for a duration of three years, the IN4SOC project aims to enhance the design, development and evaluation of curricular internships, by integrating a transversal social and citizenship skills module into students’ work experience. This means that students following programs dedicated to technical subjects may also discover social responsibility subjects, thus developing additional competences beyond those commonly addressed at the higher education level.

As a result, students acquire a set of key resources that improve their personal and professional profiles, and that are of much value from an environmental and societal perspective. Such resources include personal and social skills, the understanding of European values, the ability to deal with daily professional performance challenges and the improvement of life-long training strategies.

Work-life balance, teamwork, communication skills, career management, strategies to cope with uncertainty and complexity, improved relationships with reference communities, and the understanding of our broader environment are all covered by the transversal module.

Preliminary results 

The first pilot of the IN4SOC project was launched during the 2019-2020 academic year and included 19 socio-civic (SOC) internships with diverse participants from the five European universities engaged in the project. Three of these internships involved students from the first year of the Advanced Materials Innovative Recycling international Master program at the University of Bordeaux.

The pilot experience aimed to test the validity and pertinence of different elements developed within the IN4SOC project, including:

  • the chosen social responsibility and key competence frameworks and concepts;
  • the digital platform for the exchange of documents and communication (IN4SOC Moodle);
  • the supervision and support protocols;
  • the possibilities for sharing results between participants;
  • the evaluation criteria. 

Upon completion of the experience, participants highlighted the importance of transversal competences such as communication skills, professional accomplishments, result presentations, autonomy and the ability to work in multicultural environments. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were also a significant starting point in the conception of “SOC internships”. SDGs n°9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), n°11 (Sustainable cities and communities), n°12 (Responsible consumption and production) and n°13 (Climate action) were underlined as the most relevant by the interns.

Among the main difficulties perceived (besides difficulties linked to the Covid-19 pandemic), was the diversity of internship formats (i.e. duration, conditions, professions, types of tasks, etc.). This represents a major challenge for the harmonization of the module design and the standardization of results.

Next steps

Overall, the results of this pilot experience provide an optimistic outlook for the second pilot, which will take place throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. “SOC internships” are targeted at technical subjects, and may be deployed within the framework of a variety of programs. Potential candidates can find out more and apply until March 2021 by consulting this website.

In addition, the University of Bordeaux is currently working on the creation of a guide for successful social and civic internships, destined for supervisors and students undertaking such a module, and including a specific section dedicated to the evaluation of the social and civic component.

Partners

The IN4SOC project, coordinated by the Technical University of Madrid (Spain), brings together NOVA University Lisbon (Portugal), the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany), the University of Miskolc (Hungary) and the University of Bordeaux (France).

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Erasmus+ Program

The IN4SOC project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. Project reference number: 2018-1-ES01-KA203-050697

For more information