During the last decade the number of signatories of the Magna Charta Universitatum continued to grow worldwide. The relevance of academic independence and integrity is steadily increasing. Against this background MCO must further strengthen its organizational foundations and clarify its conceptual aims and targets.
The Magna Charta core
The Magna Charta Universitatum is the 1988 document expressing core university values, a combination of historical tradition and ritual on the one hand, and present-day commitment and solidarity on the other.
The ritual will remain a key event in the Magna Charta programming. To enhance the impact (more signatories, wider coverage) every five years and once in between on or around September 18 there will be a signatory event at the University of Bologna, coinciding with that year’s annual conference.
Should the original 1988 document be changed or kept the way it is? Of course the document is dated and geographically defined. Today we would write it in a different manner, in view of a global context and another day and age. MCO council decided, however, not to edit or rewrite the original document, but rather in the near future add an additional, shorter document to it that explicitly states that present and future signatories understand and underwrite the Magna Charta in its worldwide 21st century meaning and dimensions.
The Magna Charta Observatory and its partners
The signatories of Magna Charta represent a worldwide community of universities focusing on one thematic field, that of the core university values of independence, integrity and solidarity. Such a focus is invaluable in its concentration and persistence. At the same time such concentrated efforts yield much more and better fruit if also presented upon more general and wider platforms. Only this way our outreach can be optimized. Intensive networking with partner organizations worldwide will thus be an important concern to the Observatory in the coming years.
The Magna Charta Observatory as a monitoring institution
Magna Charta unites a community of universities subscribing to independent academic rights, privileges and duties, created to show and stimulate worldwide awareness on value issues in Higher Education and Research.
There are, however, various ways to do this. One way is that of monitoring, reporting and advising. We shall more clearly define MCO’s specific monitoring and investigating role. And establish a pool of experts who could be called upon in cases where a MCO investigation and advice are needed. These experts then would need to codify their modus operandi to a certain extent and validate their criteria
The Magna Charta Observatory as a platform for debate and instruction
Another way to show and stimulate worldwide awareness on value issues in Higher Education and Research is by organizing events for instruction and debate and publish valuable results of these activities.
MCO will continue to organize an annual conference on or around September 18 where its core mission is being presented and discussed, either in Bologna or elsewhere. In addition to the annual conference MCO as a partner to various international and regional associations of universities, students and scholars will co-organize seminars in various regions on ethical issues, preferably as part of regular meetings of our partner organizations.
For years MCO has been publishing a series of special format proceedings and specific essays. MCO will be carefully looking into the feasibility of continuing such a series. More generally MCO will intensify its web presence, make it more dynamic and newsworthy. It should be seen and used as a portal to news, relevant reports and meetings within the scope of our work. This requires regular updating and a dynamic network with relevant partners.
The Magna Charta Observatory in operation
If MCO is to operate along these lines in the coming years Council and Office should be well prepared and equipped for these tasks. To this end our financial prospects must be improved. So we have to make sure that conferences are financially self-supporting, find a way to raise structural contributions from the community of signatory universities and be fundraising from outside sources sympathetic to the Magna Charta cause.
And then, last but not least, MCO in relation to Bologna University. Council notes with great pleasure that the University has strongly reaffirmed its commitment to Magna Charta.