Can Today’s Universities Contribute to a Better Future?

Since their inception, universities have set themselves goals typically captured in mottos and mission statements. Some of these goals obviously pertain to learning and wisdom; more ambitious ones mention truth, light, and progress, which are assumed to be the result of knowledge. More recently, especially in corporate universities, phrases like ‘change for good’ or ‘better future’ appear frequently, tacking on the theme of universities as agents of progress. Are these merely advertising catchphrases to increase student revenue, or can the modern university really bring about such positive societal developments?

In this presentation, before discussing whether and how today’s universities might contribute to positive change, I will offer some considerations about what a better future might look like. I will then look at different types of university systems and consider which might be better poised to bring about positive contributions to future society, and how they could strengthen their ability to do so. Finally, I will consider those structural aspects of modern universities that are clearly constraining the potential to build better futures.

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Posted by IAFOR