A meeting with a premise: Universities as change agents

The relevance and value of higher education in future society will be discussed at the International Association of Universities’ (IAU’s) 16th quadrennial General Conference in Dublin, Ireland, from 25-28 October.

At the heart of each question the conference will deal with is the belief that universities are vital agents of change that have the ability – indeed, the moral duty – to shape local and global agendas.

For instance, the sessions include “From Science to Society: How to reach out beyond the academic circle and unlock the sciences”, “Forming a Reliable Social Contract with Civil Society: Putting fundamental values into practice” and “Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development: What is the role for university leadership”.

“The International Association of Universities is the only global association that brings higher education leaders from around the world together to discuss key issues that will help reshape the higher education sector in order to better serve society,” says Hilligje van’t Land, secretary general of IAU, who has worked for the Paris-based organisation headquartered at UNESCO for over two decades.

“We bring together leaders from five continents on matters ranging from the management of universities, value-based education, the future of internationalisation, sustainable development, and how universities have engaged with the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”

University World News is the media partner for the conference, which was originally due to take place in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Readers can register to participate here.

First proposed in the 1930s, the IAU was founded in 1950 in the same global spirit as the founding of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank established at a Bretton Woods conference in New Hampshire (US) in 1944 and the United Nations (1945).

According to its constitution, the IAU’s aim is to “provide a centre of cooperation at the international level among the universities and similar institutions of higher education of all countries, as well as among organisations in the field of higher education generally, and to advocate for their concerns”.

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