A new report out later this month takes a critical look at how universities around the world are contributing to driving social change.
Knowledge, Engagement and Higher Education: Contributing to social change is the fifth in the Higher Education in the World series to be produced by the Global University Network for Innovation – GUNI – an international network of universities set up in 1999.
The report aims to provide a vision for a new, more socially responsible relationship between universities and the communities they serve by suggesting ways in which higher education can help build a more equitable society.
It also charts the progress of the movement for greater civic engagement by universities over the past 10 to 15 years.
For Cristina Escrigas, executive director of GUNI, one of the most significant things about the report is the fact that it calls for a profound rethink of the way universities see their mission.
Whereas until now, an institution’s links to the community may have been seen as one of the three pillars alongside teaching and research, she says, “the new concept of engagement means that we have to revise this link to society, as well as teaching and research, it means we have to rethink all forms of institutional activity, looking at the whole from the point of view of social responsibility.”
The result of three years’ work, the report includes an analysis of the state of the art in six regions of the world as well as trends and good practices from each.
Guest edited by Rajesh Tandon and Budd Hall, joint UNESCO chairs of community-based research and social responsibility in higher education, it contains contributions from 76 authors from around the world.
It will be first presented at a Talloires Network workshop on civic engagement in Amman in Jordan on 9 February, with further presentations scheduled in Delhi, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh in India, Ottawa in Canada and in Hong Kong during March.