Opportunities and Challenges for Arab and European universities in fulfilling their societal mission
Reflecting on society and contributing to its development through research and education, in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, is at the core of the university mission.
Moreover universities take pride in being part of a borderless academic community, defined by a common culture, a joint sense of purpose and shared values. In addition, much more than in the past, universities and their communities are able to experience and explore academic exchange and collaboration around the globe. Last but not least, universities are also part of their societies, and in multiple ways subject to, and influenced by their specific political, social and economic development, including their foreign relations’ policies.
The present conference will address some of the opportunities and threats that result from these complex interactions, for both Arab and European universities, in these particularly challenging times.
University leaders in both regions have experienced how national and international crises, political repression and restrictions of civic rights, and armed conflicts have impacted their own universities or their partners’ institutions. These developments affect the ability of institutions to fulfil their different missions, be it the freedom to conduct research and ensure high level teaching, or the ability to develop further international exchange and partnerships; in the worst case this may lead to the closure of institutions and an exodus of staff and students.
The conference will provide a forum to share and discuss experiences with a view to exploring possible ways forward and for coping with the multiple challenges we face. The objective is to learn from past experience and to identify opportunities for strengthening institutional mission, for improving the conditions for staff and students alike and for enhancing benefit to society at large. Finally, the conference will seek to explore innovative ways in which universities can support each other, and also seek to influence policy and policy makers.