ISSN: 1998 - 4162

JISR - Management and Social Sciences & Economics Journal Contents

Volume 11, Number 1, January 2013


The world is fast transforming into a more complex and interconnected hub of activities due to the rapid and unprecedented changes in social, cultural and economic structures. The changes in social structures, owing to the evolution/devolution of political and social institutions, are reshaping social behaviour, attitudes, and values in an electronic pervasive society. Similarly, cultural changes are taking place because of the increased social interactions, outreach of media, amalgamation of languages, resulting in altering identities and customs around the globe. In addition, economic policies, growing competition among businesses and scarce resources are modifying roles and relationships of governments, businesses, and research institutions.

The above-mentioned structural changes are immense, inevitable and palpable but can be harmonized to the benefit of mankind by deliberate and coordinated efforts of stakeholders and think tanks in a society. A key player, in this case, is an academic institution or university that can lend a hand to harness the transformation. The most important role of universities is to anticipate, predict, and then prepare the societies, governments, and businesses to combat the challenges, and make the changes possible through education, research, and innovation. The universities can achieve this goal by educating the greater proportion of population and creating the awareness regarding the impact and consequences of actions taken individually or collectively by the members of a society. They can respond to the business for their increasing demand to ever-changing requirements of the consumers through technological breakthrough, innovation and development. They can safeguard the ideology of a nation and preserve the values and strive for the prevalence of the universal goodness during the phases of change.

Across the globe, countries have recognized universities as the highest seat of learning. They are the key to the knowledge economy and hub of creating the solutions to social and economic problems. However, these institutions differ from other civil institutions in terms of internal governance, rigorous meritocracy, and research intertwined with teaching, academic freedom and engagement with society. Academic institutions contribute to the society positively while the concept of shared governance, inclusion of funding agencies and scholars, are central to the collective good of the society. The conscientious merit is achieved by considering all academic, intellectual, and ethical standards; and productivity for economic growth along with social justice and impact to the larger society by preserving the values and overall goodness. Another characteristic which distinguishes universities and research institutions is research conducted in a culture of academic freedom; while this research is conducted in response to the societal and business needs becomes indigenous and contributes to the sustainable economic growth. The research-oriented development of a society through universities is possible only if funding by the government, business and industry, and other donor agencies in the society flow continuously and steadily.

Besides general and professional universities, research intensive and research extensive universities are also playing crucial roles, especially in low and middle-income countries for developing effective and differentiated systems and in making it possible for the countries to join sophisticated knowledge economies. The universities, around the world, are part of an active community of institutions that share values, foci, and mission; although, vary according to national requirements and link with the community. The efficacy of these universities rely not only on realisation of complexity of the resources needed to build and sustain them but also business, community, and government support to function in a nurturing environment. However, mere scholarly work and technological innovations are not enough for a university to sustain these structural changes; they have to do more in a society of shifting goals.

Universities promote excellence in research and education by emphasizing the mutual interdependence of these activities at the highest levels of learning. But they do more than this. A group of Western Europe and American scholars in Millennium Declaration stated: “In a society of shifting goals and uncertain values, the university must stand for something more than accurate data and reliable information; more, even than useful knowledge and dependable standards. The university is the custodian, not only of knowledge, but also of the values on which that knowledge depends; not only of professional skills, but of the ethical obligations that underlies those professional skills; not only of scholarly inquiry, disciplined learning and broad understanding, but also of the means that make inquiry, learning and understanding possible. In its institutional life and its professional activities, the university must reaffirm that integrity is the requirement, excellence the standard, rationality the means, community the context, civility the attitude, openness the relationship and responsibility the obligation upon which its own existence and knowledge itself depend.

January 1, 2014

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