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Community engagement of the higher education institutions: status, contours and strategies

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A university’s functions are like an umbrella, covering a diverse range of activities. In fact, the Latin term universitas means whole or totality. The scholarly republics of 16th century Europe were indeed organized as totalities and had limited interaction with the societies around them.
Modern universities are likewise supposed to be totalities; however, their activities are increasingly diverse and the surrounding societies complex, and the universities are expected to reflect and contribute to ever more complex surrounding societies. A major problem for universities all over the world is to find a fruitful way to deal with this growing diversity and complexity – a problem to which there are no simple solutions.
In modern societies, there is interplay between state and university, and, accordingly, a balance between governance and autonomy. The weighting between governance and autonomy differs from country to country, from university to university, and at a time with greater interaction between universities and societies, there is a need for further consideration, and even perhaps reevaluation, of the nature of this balance.
However, all kinds of educational providers interact with their surrounding societies. Sometimes these interactions are successful – sometimes they are not. In an Indian context, the Kothari Commission of 1966 formulated the need for interaction as follows:
- making education relevant to real life situations
- preventing the alienation of education from society
- developing a sense of responsibility towards society within education
- deepening teachers’ knowledge through wider exposure to real life situations.
This formulation reflects the situation in the 1960s where governments all over the world were discussing whether their national education systems were fulfilling their role in a changing society.
Philip H. Coombs, an American economist who had been part of the Kennedy administration and appointed director of the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning, summarized in 1968 many aspects of these discussions and proposed possible solutions in The World Educational Crisis: A Systems Analysis (1968).
In a parallel development, challenging the traditionally isolated and inward-looking role of the university (the ivory tower), in December 1965, the UNESCO General Assembly adopted a definition of Lifelong Education as:
…the animating principle of the whole process of education, regarded as continuing throughout an individual’s life from his earliest childhood to the end of his days, and therefore calling for integrated organization. The necessary integration should be achieved both vertically, throughout the duration of life, and horizontally to cover all the various aspects of the life of individuals and societies…
50 years later, is this definition still relevant? We think so.
Bidragets oversatte titelUniversitetsuddannelserne samfundsmæssige relationer
ForlagIndian Books and Periodicals
Antal sider384
ISBN (Trykt)9788190512572
StatusUdgivet - 2017


  • Higher education, Community Participation, Gender, Lifelong Learning, equality through education, Videregående uddannelse, Køn, Livslang læring

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