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Challenging universities to rethink their purpose

For many, universities and higher educational institutions continue to be viewed as elitist and isolated institutions, with little connection to the society, communities and organisations around them. Indeed, universities are large, bureaucratic organisations, and many still operate in this stereotyped ‘traditional’ way. However, at a time when the challenges facing society are increasing in scale and complexity, traditional institutions, from banks to the public service to NGOs, have begun reviewing their roles, in an effort to be more collaborative. Universities are no different.

Aside from the major responsibility of education and knowledge, what purpose do universities serve? Many academic institutions around the world are beginning to recognise their role in creating political, economic and social value, as well as their ability to become an ‘embedded brain’ within society. The vast resources, research capabilities and connections which universities hold can foster, promote, and lead social innovation globally.

SIX is working on various EU funded projects exploring the role of academics institutions in society such as LASIN, SEASIN, SIKE, Common Good First and SCALINGS.

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