As an essential part of its rich culture, Koç University emphasizes the importance of social cooperation and ensures social, economic and environmental development through voluntary activities. Accordingly, it carries out various projects led both by the University administration and through the initiatives of its faculty and students.
Koç University & UNDP Collaboration
By partnering with UNDP Turkey in the scope of regional Growing Inclusive Markets (GIM) initiative, Koç University is taking a step further in responding to the global call for business schools and other academic associations to advance corporate social responsibility worldwide and to respond to the need for developing more inclusive markets.
As a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) – a framework for academic institutions to advance the broader cause of corporate social responsibility and incorporate universal values into curricula and research – Koç University’s Graduate School of Business plays an active role to promote the inclusive markets in the faculty.
Highly aware of its responsibilities for the environment, it has always been the goal of Koç University to ensure a “green” world for the future generations. As a main principle, the University protects natural resources, uses them in the most efficient way through basic modifications in consumption methods, minimizes the creation of waste at the source and prefers recyclable products with minimum negative effects.
The Main Campus of Koç University and other campuses built afterwards have been equipped with the automation systems targeting utmost energy efficiency. For instance; a central system controls lighting and ventilation of the classes and corridors. Lighting, heating and cooling of the offices, on the other hand, are managed by motion sensors and the automation system shuts them after 15 minutes if no motion detected. Furthermore the cogeneration system built in 2005 in the Main Campus both provides the electricity need of the campus and maximizes gas efficiency by obtaining hot water through the stack gas of this facility. Koç University, additionally, carries the international environmental standards to its campus by acquiring ISO14001 Environmental Management Systems certificate.
Koç University Volunteers is a student club that has been active since 2001 and operating under the University’s Student Activities and Volunteer Projects Office. With more than 400 actively participating volunteers each year, the club has made numerous donations and developed projects in various regions of Turkey, primarily Sarıyer.
Combining the dynamism and motivation of being a student club with the dicipline of an NGO,
KU Volunteers aims to reach all segments of the society and spread the notion of “volunteering” among the University. They believe that the confident steps they take in finding volunteers, resources, generating and planning projects and forming bonds between institutions is not just enough when it comes to generating funds and attracting larger crowds. KU Volunteers believe that in order to reach those goals it is necessary to convince corporate companies about the importance and value of social responsibility and they work towards achieving this goal as well.
In its 15 years of history, the student club has produced and executed numerous projects and formed various groups. In the academic year of 2015-2016, along with its 6 active subgroups, KU Volunteers realized two big scale projects in the University:
Koç University Tiny Hearts Project (KÜMYÜP): KÜMYÜP is the first project of its kind and has inspired similar projects in other educational institutions. The project takes place in Şeyh Zayed Orphanage in Bahçelievler and Darülaceze Orphanage. 42 volunteers get together with 42 “tiny hearts” in the orphanages every saturday morning. Sometimes by playing games or sometimes just hugging each other but by always being there consistently every saturday “just for them”, it aims to teach the little ones the feeling of “secure attachment and seperation”.
Awareness Group: The Awareness Group was established in order to enhance and transform Koç University students’ perspective, vision, communication and develop “awareness” towards social issues. They fund their project “No School Without a Library” through a fund raising event “Chill Out Festival” that takes place in the University campus twice every academic year. With the funds they raise with this fair, Koç University Volunteers Awareness Group establish libraries and computer rooms for under resourced schools in Anatolian cities. The club additionally provides school clothing and materials for children in need of support. Every Spring Break holiday over thirty volunteers join to make this project a reality by traveling to a selected school to offer lessons on a variety of subjects to children, and providing all the resources and work necessary to establish a library at the school.
Another project they consistently carry out each year is the “Unobstructed Show”. This project brings people with different disabilities together to dance, sing, socialize with each other and Koç University students.
Koç University Society for Education (KET): In hope for achieving equal educational opportunities for all children, 40 KET volunteers meet every weekend and tutor primary school children from Sarıyer on different school subjects. They also try to be good role models and friends to them. They encourage these children to become individuals who are aware, confident and are not afraid to think by providing them with the right tools and opportunities. KET also offers these children drama, dance and arts & crafts lessons. At the end of each year KET volunteers, together with the children, put on a special show for children’s parents and teachers.
Share My Dream: “Share My Dream” operates under the Make-A-Wish® Türkiye which is a foundation that works towards granting the wish of every child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. In order to give hope to these children, Share My Dream volunteers hold fundraising events. The group touches the lives of many children every year with the projects they organize in various regions of Turkey, primarily İstanbul.
KUVolunteers - Environment Group: The group’s goal is to raise environmental and ecological awareness, increase tree plantation, contribute to wild life and sustainability in Koç University, Sarıyer and İstanbul. As they believe that environmental awareness should be implemented at early ages, they pay visits to primary schools around Sarıyer to give seminars in cooperation with TURMEPA and TEMA.
Animal Friends: The group aims to raise awareness for animals in need of care, help the animals around the University and shelters in the city by gathering volunteers who love and care about animals. The volunteers of the group visit shelters to spend time with the animals, raise funds to donate food and other materials and strive to transform the University campus to an animal-friendly one.
Koç University Volunteers Children’s Festival: Every year in April 24, Koç University Volunteers organize a children’s festival that hosts about 400 children. Children from Bahçelievler and Darülaceze orphanages, elementary schools around Sarıyer, children of the University staff and children with down syndrome attend the event. The kids have fun with their “new friends” all they long and ejoy enjoy small rides, tournaments, outdoors toys and delicious meals.
Koç University Magical Wishes Project: The project has started in December 2013, and has reached hundreds of children in the under resourced areas of Turkey so far. Every year volunteers pick one or two schools in Anatolia and and ask their students what they wish for new year. The students write their gift wishes on a card and these cards are hung on a wish tree in the student center. Koç University students and staff pick these cards and bring back the gifts that the children have asked for. After gathering all the gifts, a group of volunteers go to these schools and deliver the gifts personally to the children. This project is very special as it includes not only the volunteers that work for the project but also the students and staff of Koç University. The primary goal of the project is to be able make more children happy by granting their wishes. Collective effort of the Koç University community allows the volunteers to reach this goal every year.
KUGlobalAid is an international service learning program established by the students of the Koç University with the Support of Office of International Programs(OIP), aiming to raise awareness and create solidarity. Our goal is to support the development process of the world with a global, human and need-oriented perspective. In accordance with the requirements of the 21st century, we face complex and interrelated problems; creating social impact by using social entrepreneurship, human-centered design, and sustainability tools are the main motivation of our community. In addition to our international social impact projects, which have been successfully carried out in countries such as Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Zimbabwe and Brazil for six years, we have been carrying out social enterprise projects focusing on Syrian refugees, which is a global situation influencing our country since 2015 as well. We organize international aid projects every year.
KUGlobalAid aims to combine the principles of responsibility and solidarity in extending a helping hand towards communities in need, while also representing Koç University and Turkey on the international scale. It is by doing so that KUGlobalAid moves from being a simple student group to an international social initiative based on the pillars of awareness, effort, solidarity, and cooperation.
Selected Activities for the Social Development
Koç University devotes its academic knowledge and power to the welfare of the society. To this end it conducts activities for the social development and improvement in various fields as well as takes part in such organizations.
The Koç University – Kyoto University International Symposium on Innovative and Sustainable Development: As the 16th in a series of international symposia which have been held periodically by Kyoto University since 2001, The Koç University – Kyoto University International Symposium on Innovative and Sustainable Development focuses primarily on efficient, smart growth and development. During the symposium, hosted by Koç University on September 7-9, 2011, eminent decision-makers and forerunners of the business and academic world are to share their knowledge and discuss how development can be achieved in the most effective way.
The Green Information Platform “Responsibility Now” Conference: The corporate social responsibility program which is pioneered by Koç Sistem, Koç.net and Promena, affiliated companies of Koç Information Group and as well as Tanı and Zer, companies of Koç Holding, The Green Information Platform partnered with Koç University and organized a conference on environment, “Responsibility Now Before Running Out of Resources”, on June 8, 2011 in parallel with the World Environment Day and Environment Protection Week. Leaders of the business and economy world, academicians, NGOs, artists and journalists participated in the conference which was held in 3 sessions: economic, academic and social approaches.
Symposium for Education of the Genius: ‘1st International Symposium for Education of the Genius’ was held on 23-24 September 2010 with the collaboration of Koç University, the Turkish Educational Foundation and the Ministry of National Education.
Sharing the Best Practice in Education: With the aim of reaching the perfect education system throughout the country and encouraging sharing of the best practices in education, Koç University held an event to present its student-oriented and inter-disciplinary approach to education with high school managers and counselors on 28 May 2010. Hosted 48 educators from 29 high schools around the country, the event basically focused on learning process with the main theme “Learning the Learning Approach and Developments in Student-Oriented Teaching”.
‘For My Country’ Campaign: The faculty, staff and students of Koç University have supported ‘For My Country’ campaign initiated by Koç Holding with the collaboration of Turkish Red Crescent Society in order to create awareness in society about the importance of donating blood and to encourage voluntary blood donations in the country.
Panel on ‘After the Referendum: Democratization Perspectives in Turkey’: Founded in 2004, the Center for Research on Globalization and Democratic Governance (GLODEM) carried out a significant conference organization in 2010. The panel on ‘After the Referendum: Democratization Perspectives in Turkey’ scrutinized this period with its participants from the academic world and the media.
Symposium on “Yes or No to Euthanasia?”: The symposium on “Yes or No to Euthanasia?” was organized by Law School of Koç University and the euthanasia was laid on the table.
Projects of KU Faculty: Koç University carries out research projects for the academic and social development. Some of these projects are as follow:
- School enrollment and drop-out problem in primary school education in Turkey: Determining individual, social and ecological factors.
- Development of Waste Battery Disposal and Recovery Technologies
- Disability Rights and Urban Citizenship: Actors and Dynamics Shaping the Lives of Istanbulites with Disabilities
- The Study of Early Childhood Developmental Ecologies in Turkey
Supporting Sarıyer Municipality
Education Programs: With the support of Koç University, Sarıyer Municipality initiated seminars in order to inform executives, heads of departments and supervisors of the institution on the developments in local administration, help them to catch up with the new conditions and improve their management skills. In a cooperative initiative between the Municipality of Sarıyer and Koç University, six weeks of seminars were held under the umbrella of "Strategic Business Administration Education", providing training on a wide range of issues, such as public relations, service and quality management, strategic planning, behavior in organizations, process management, problem-solving and decision-making.
City Council: Koç University has been elected as the university representative to the Executive Board of the Women’s Assembly operating under Sarıyer City Council. Thus aiming to contributing to many social responsibility projects focusing on education, environment and society, Koç University plays an active role in volunteer projects with the local administration.
Donations to High Schools: The Corporate Communications Office of Koç University makes donations to high schools throughout the country in accordance with their needs.
Donation to TEMA for Teachers’ Day: Corporate Relations and Development Office of Koç University has made donation to the TEMA Foundation (The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats) to celebrate the Teachers’ Day of 160 high school teachers.