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The Identity of the University of te Future

Turin, June 2007

BACKGROUND

The Magna Charta Observatory organised on 14 and 15 June 2007 the third seminar of a series dedicated to reflecting on tomorrow’s idea of the university as an institution of higher education and research. In 1988, the Magna Charta Universitatum spoke of the ‘true university’, a term that needs further explanation with the changing role of the university in society The first two sessions were held in Reykjavik in 2005 and inLuxembourg in 2006: they looked at the history of the idea of the university and its possible projection into the future in function of the worldview which academics share about the place of their institution in society. In Turin, participants were asked to balance that inner perspective with stakeholders’ expectations, present and future, in view of the emerging society of knowledge. 

To anchor the debate in local realities, the seminar was organised in Piedmont where exemplary partnerships have developed over the last few years between the knowledge providers in Turin – the Politecnico and the Università in particular – and their key industrial, financial and political partners; they all share a platform where to discuss, re-invent and commit to the development of a knowledge region for North East Italy, the Mario Boella Institute (ISMB) that agreed to host the meeting and act as a reference for the 2007 reflections of the taskforce.

 

THE CONFERENCE

As in 2005 and 2006, the conversation was entrusted to a 20 strong taskforce set up by the Observatory to ensure continuity in the discussion: indeed, half the participants in Turin had taken part in one or both of the preceding meetings while the others were invited to bring in new ideas and new approaches to the subject. As in 2006, throughout the two days of the programme, the conference was facilitated by Eva Egron Polak, the Secretary General of the International Association of Universities in Paris. Daniel Samoilovich, as consultant of the Mario Boella Institute in charge of its international collaborations with Latin American regions, acted as the ‘devil’s advocate’ in order to contrast viewpoints and keep the conversation going. 

Participants had been asked to glance through the 2005 UNESCO report entitled Towards the society of knowledge and to take account of Edgar Morin’s Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future, a document UNESCO published in 2001. The meeting opend on an address by Ezio Andreta, now Commissioner of the National Innovation Agency in Rome after a career at the DG research in Brussels. The discussion also drew from the lessons learned from the work of the Mario Boella Institute, its President, Professor Rodolfo Zich, indicating how the ISMB acted and acts as a catalyst for change in the development of a knowledge region for Piedmont – an analysis illustrated by industrial leaders from Telecom Italia and Motorola, and completed by a Politecnico’s presentation of its innovation policies. A rich discussion followed and the taskforce pointed to key aspects of tomorrow’s role of universities in the knowledge society, points that are to be reworked by Jon Torfi Jonasson (University of Iceland) in an Essay on the University of tomorrow to be published in 2008 at the occasion of the 20th anniversary in Bologna of the signing of the Magna Charta in 1988.

 

PARTICIPANTS

1. BARBLAN

Andris, Secretary General, Magna Charta Observatory, Bologna

2. BAUMANN

Bastian, Law Student, Free University of Berlin & Kassel University, Former Executive Board ESIB

3. BEEK

Stefan, Commodification Committee, Executive Board, European Student Unions (ESU ex-ESIB), Brussels

4. BERGAN

Sjur, Director, Committee Higher Education and Research, Council of Europe, Strasbourg

5. BJELIS

Aleksa, Rector, University of Zagreb

6. DAXNER

Michael, former President, University of Oldenburg, former UN Commissioner for Education in Kosovo, Posdam

7. EDWARDS

Kenneth, former Vice-Chancellor Leicester University, former President, Association of European Universities, Cambridge

8. EGRON-POLAK

Eva, Secretary General, International Association of Universities, Paris

9. HADDAD

Georges, Director for Higher Education, UNESCO, Paris, former President, Paris I- Sorbonne

10. JONASSON

Jon Torfi, former Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Iceland, Reykjavik

11. RAIVIO

Kari, Chancellor of the University of Helsinki

12. SAMOILOVICH

Daniel, Director, Columbus Programme for Euro-Latin American inter-university cooperation, Paris & Torino Wireless, Turin

13. SKULASON

Pall, former Rector University of Iceland, Reykjavik

14. STRANGWAY

David, President and founder, Quest University, British Columbia

15. van der WENDE

Marijk, President, OECD Programme for the International Management of Higher Education, Paris & Amsterdam

16 ZICH

Rodolfo, President of Mario Boella Institute, former Rector, Politecnico di Torino

 

PROGRAMME

Wednesday 13 June:

Day of arrival of participants

18.00 – 19.30

Informal get-together and presentation of the seminar programme

20.00

Welcome dinner

 

 

Thursday 14 June:

 

09.00 - 10.30

Questions for a meeting, by Jon Torfi Jonasson (picking up the points evoked by the 2005 and 2006 seminars) and first round of discussions on the seminar main foci.

11.00 - 12.30

Complexity and the society of knowledge: which partnership for development? Reference themes for in-depth reflections

13.00

Lunch

14.30 – 16.00

The stakeholders’ ‘academic’ expectations, general discussion

16.30 – 18.00

Preparing questions for the Turin case study

20.00

Dinner

 

 

Friday 15 June:

 

09.00 - 10.30

Steering or joining change: a role for universities? The Turin case, a presentation chaired by Rodolfo Zich, President, Mario Boella Institute, with various partners of the Institute and Torino Wireless

11.00 - 12.30

Betting on universities, why and how? Discussion introduced by a brief account of knowledge management strategies in Finland, by Kari Raivio, Chancellor, University of Helsinki (to be confirmed)

13.00

Lunch

14.30 – 16.00

Defending public interest, preliminary remarks for general discussion by Sjur Bergan, Council of Europe, and Germain Dondelinger, Ministry of Education, Luxembourg

16.30 – 18.00

Keypoints for a university of the future, taskforce conclusions

20.00

Final Dinner

 

 

Saturday June 16:

Day of departure