Association of College Honor Societies


Proposed Theme: Social Responsibility

Adviser Grant Program

Social Responsibility: 
The Power of the Association of College Honor Societies to Make a Difference
A Chapter Leadership Project
Social Responsibility home


As a representative of the Association of College Honor Societies, Executive Director Dorothy I. Mitstifer attended The Global Summit on Social Responsibility sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives, April 20-May 2, 2008. As an outcome of that experience ACHS initiated an adviser grant program on social responsibility. Eleven grants were awarded to advisers in seven member societies for 2008-2009 and eight grants for 2009-2010. The Global Summit was an acknowledgement that “associations play a special role in our world and have the power to transform society for the better” (ASAE, 2008, p. 7).  Because society is transformed most productively from the bottom up in the spheres of environmental, social, and economic change, ACHS member society chapters have an opportunity to make an impact on campus and in the larger community.
Serious intellectual endeavor with a commitment to public practice and public consequence is also supported by Imagining America, a national consortium of eight-five colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design (Syracuse University, 2009). Public scholarship in the arts and humanities integrates all the missions of higher education: research, teaching, service, and public engagement. Public scholarship joins serious intellectual endeavor with a commitment to public practice and public consequence, including

  • Scholarly and creative work jointly planned and carried out by university and community partners;
  • Intellectual work that produces a public good;
  • Artistic, critical, and historical work that contributes to public debates;
  • Efforts to expand the place of public scholarship in higher education itself, including the development of new programs and research on the successes of such efforts.

Relationship to ACHS Mission

The ACHS mission is to build a visibly cohesive community of national and international honor societies, individually and collaboratively exhibiting excellence in scholarship, service, programs, and governance. This project reflects the service aspect of the mission and offers support in developing leadership in social responsibility at the chapter level.

Position Statement

“Leadership is about going somewhere—personally and in concert with others in an organization. Although leadership, especially position (elected or appointed) leadership, is often discussed in terms of leader qualities and skills, the matter of leadership as a responsibility of each professional receives little attention (Wheatley, 2005). The campus and larger community can benefit from the leadership of chapter members in addressing issues related to social responsibility in the areas of peace and security, social justice, environment, prosperity, innovation/technology, health, and education.

Program objectives include the following:

  1. Promote, encourage, and strengthen leadership development at all levels of the campus community in regard to social responsibility.
  2. Engage in a dialogue among student groups regarding social responsibility.
  3. Commit to a leadership role in increasing campus and community awareness of a local issue or concern.
  4. Serve as role models of leadership.

Proposed Process

One procedure for developing an action plan is Appreciative Inquiry (AI). The stages of discovery, dream, design, and destiny utilize a small-group process to leverage the power of the chapter to provide leadership in social responsibility. The following elements are part of AI (ASAE, 2008, p. 6):

  • The whole system participates – a cross-section of as many internal and external stakeholders as possible should be included.

  • Task-focused, AI is not simply an education event or a conference. It builds a vision and plan of action that creates a new magnitude of socially responsible leadership.

  • From a historical and global perspective, participants think globally before acting locally.

  • Participants self-manage their work and use inquiry, not problem solving, as the main tool.

  • Common ground, rather than conflict management, is the frame of reference.

  • Appreciative Inquiry means to appreciate valued ends and is the process to understand those things worth valuing. To inquire means to study, to ask questions, to search. AI is therefore a collaborative search to identify and understand the system’s strengths and greatest opportunities as well as participant’s aspirations.
  • Commitment to action ensures that it is easier to make rapid designs (prototypes and pilots) and deliver on promises to act.

Proposed Action

Therefore, be it resolved that ACHS member societies accept social responsibility as a theme and encourage chapters to

  • Collaborate with unit administrators and faculty and/or with other honor societies or student groups on campus to determine ways to promote social responsibility during
    2009 - 2012;
  • Develop an action plan to promote social responsibility;
  • Institute activities to promote social responsibility, evaluate them, and revise to enhance their effectiveness; and
  • Publicize accomplishments and recognize participants.

Financial Impact

Because social responsibility programming is no different than other programming, chapter funds budgeted for programming can provide needed funds.

Time Frame

Chapters are encouraged to develop a plan for three academic years and to implement the plan.
ASAE. (2008). The global summit on social responsibility: Leveraging the power of associations for a new magnitude of leadership. Washington, DC.
Block, P. (1987). The empowered manager. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Covey, S. R., Merrill, A. R., & Merrill, R. R. (1994). First things first. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Syracuse University. (2009). Imagining America. Retrieved from http://
 Wheatley, M. J. (2005). Finding our way. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Recommended by the Board of Directors, June 2009, for consideration in February 2010. It is also recommended that the “A Matter of Ethics” theme be maintained.

Social Responsibility home

The “seven wonders” for the ACHS Chapter Leadership Project are based upon the following reference: Sachs, J. (2008). Common wealth: Economics for a crowded planet. New York: Penguin Press. See