EUA webinar series Universities and democracy: how to strengthen a crucial relationship

Universities work best in democracies, and democracies need open and engaged universities working in the service of society.

The open, sustainable and autonomous university that is the aspiration of EUA’s “Universities without walls – A vision for 2030” requires a free flow of knowledge into and out of universities, the opportunity to use evidence critically and the capacity of institutions to make their own decisions. In this vision, pluralism is key. Diversity of perspectives, disciplines and approaches is important for progress in all university missions. There needs to be space for fruitful disagreement. Pushing the frontiers of knowledge and finding new innovative solutions to address major challenges and to educate the next generation of critical thinkers does not work in an environment where difference is regarded with suspicion. Any form of extremism is counter to this idea, and this is why universities can work best in pluralistic societies with democratic systems.

However, democracy and political systems are under pressure in many European countries to different degrees, and this also impacts on universities and their role in society. The question of how universities can help to strengthen democracy and find new ways of engagement is becoming increasingly important.

Following on from the reflections in the democracy chapter of EUA’s “Pathways to the future” publication, this webinar series will further explore the relationship between universities and democracy along three themes: civic engagement; scientific literacy and the future of science communication; and evidence-based policy making and science advice in times of uncertainty.  

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