In the standard definition of purposes of higher education institutions (HEIs), teaching and research are given centrality. Service is defined as the third mission. In this approach, the operationalisation of service mission of HEIs is disconnected with the other two missions of teaching and research. As a consequence, service to society and community has largely remained an appendix in most HEIs around the world.
In the past decade, several pressures on the HEIs have begun to make institutions re-think their social responsibility. First, the explosion of knowledge from multiple sites and in multiple modes has significantly curtailed the monopoly of HEIs in knowledge production. Second, expectations of performance and accountability of HEIs in serving societal developments have increased manifold. Third, competitive pressures from new providers of learning opportunities have posed options for reforming teaching functions.
As a consequence, community engagement is no longer being viewed as the third mission of HEIs, but a strategy for improving their performance in respect of core research and teaching functions. The 6th Barcelona International Conference on Higher Education held in Barcelona, organised by Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI) had this particular theme — transformative knowledge to drive social change? A forthcoming GUNI publication provides global analysis of trends and challenges in integrating knowledge and teaching with community engagements in ways that social responsibility of HEIs can be enhanced.
This panel will draw on this discourse to present findings of the GUNI report and three other research studies currently being undertaken in India, globally with support from the International Development Research Council (IDRC) and in the UK by the National Centre for Public Engagement (NCPE).