+++verschoben+++ 2020 CHER annual conference: Engaged University

Am 02.09.2020 - 04.09. in Rijeka
Kategorie: Tagung

+++verschoben+++

Following extensive discussions, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the CHER board have decided to ​postpone CHER 2020 jointly organised by the University of Rijeka and NUI Galway, and transfer one into the upcoming year of 2021.

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Theme

With an increasing focus on multifaceted missions for higher education institutions (HEIs), there is an international convergence of interest on issues about universities’ role in a wider society. University-community partnerships and engagement have therefore become progressively more prominent in national, regional and international forums of higher education. The objectives of such university/HEIs engagement are both to contribute and to create support from the public by connecting research, teaching and service to help tackle and solve community/societal problems, while contributing to capacity-building, sustainability, economic, environmental, social, civic and cultural development. This is why in particular the theory and practice of university community engagement is as rich and diverse as the historical, political, social, civic and cultural roots that have given rise to regions, nations and continents, and the formation of universities and higher education systems globally.

There is an increasing sense that universities/HEIs should be doing more to engage with various kinds of communities in the course of their activities. One of the challenges universities across the globe face and share is growing public apathy with what is seen to be universities’ unresponsiveness to wicked problems. At the root of the criticism is a perception that universities are out of touch and out of date. Another part of the issue is that while society has challenges to cope with, HEIs have “disciplines” and “departments”. What these critiques add up to is a perception that, despite the resources and expertise available within higher education, HEIs are not well organised or exist in disciplinary silos to bring them to bear on local/regional/national/societal challenges in a coherent way. Undoubtedly, the engagement mission of higher education has become increasingly important to universities because of a recognition that the massification of higher education in the last two decades has intensified the duties faced by HEIs to actively demonstrate their wider contribution to society beyond the immediate benefits to educated individuals, particularly if they are funded by the public. 

Reflecting on those increasing pressure for universities/HEIs to demonstrate how they deliver public benefits, community engagement is emerging as a policy priority in higher education. Indeed, the recent European Commission Communication “A Renewed EU Agenda for Higher Education” (2017) identified community engagement for the first time as one of the desirable mechanisms by which European universities should seek to promote their societal purposes. This renewed emphasis on engagement goes beyond the now widely-accepted need for universities to ensure that they contribute to economic growth. The Commission’s Renewed Agenda thus emphasises that higher education “must play its part in facing up to Europe’s social and democratic challenges” and “should engage by integrating local, regional and societal issues into curricula, involving the local community in teaching and research projects, providing adult learning and communicating and building links with local communities.” Promoting higher education in an increasingly knowledge-based society as a key factor for cultural, economic and social development, UNESCO positions HEIs as one of the key drivers for the implementation of Agenda 2030, by providing the data and research and analytical knowledge base required for targeted and effective policy-making.

 



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