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The university’s place as a dominant player in a global system

May 03,2018 - Last updated at May 03,2018

In this article, I want to consider the place of the University in a rapidly changing and globalising world that plays a major role in a discussion of any of the critical issues such as this. 

Common literature stresses the University's place as a dominant player in a global system increasingly driven by specialised knowledge, information, ideas and research. 

For there is no doubt that we live in an age when knowledge is becoming more vital to our societies and economies than ever, in an era of speedily circulating capital and people and of front-line, cutting-edge communication technologies.

More than any other resource, to be sure, knowledge has becomethe main driver of economic growth, and education has progressively become the basis for individual success and social progress. 

Indeed, the proportion of individuals who believe higher education to be absolutely necessary for success has increased considerably since 2010. 

In my view, as a University professor, universities' international initiatives are framed as a viable requirement for worldwide success of nations and their economies through the partnership programmes they create, in the bridges they build, in the intellectual setup they expand in dealing with the challenges that cross borders; in removing common ignorance and in promoting cultural and political tolerance and in enriching educated, intellectual dialogues and debates among students and people.

Albeit, when we define higher education's role principally as leading economic development and solving society's problematic concerns, we often lose sight of more important issues along this path: that our cultures are different and will always be so, and they usually structure the way nations think and the way they see other nations in the rest of the world.

Culturesreflect nations’ customs, values, ideas, beliefs as well as principles. At the end of the day, nations live in a cultural web that not only influences the way they relate to each other, but the way they behave, their habits, manners, and desires.  As cultures bind people together, they can also set them apart. 

Nations, for this reason, adopt certain ways of looking at the rest of the world that, in a way, can only be characterised as frames of cultural references. These references define relationships to and with other nations, cultures and societies, and they often view other cultures as prescribed by one’s own. The most overriding ones form the way people perceive the world, and they blind us to other ways of seeing it.

When something violates such commonly accepted references, it may be called unnatural and uncommon! Common socio-national identities (who people are and how they think) are deeply rooted in a set of cultural values that, in their turn, are entwined with common beliefs to such a degree that questioning them implies a major reconsideration of the way the world is seen by and the way it sees “the other”. 

But that’s another story. Sound, all-encompassing, comprehensive and wide-ranging higher education is, in the end, intended not only to teach and instruct, but to educate as it removes those barriers or hurdles of misunderstanding and the intellectual ignorance that come with them and sometimes render human relations so difficult.

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