Paper presented at the CHE-HEQC/JET-CHESP Conference on Community Engagement in Higher Education.
3 to 5 September 2006,Cape Town, South Africa.
Paper presented at the CHE-HEQC/JET-CHESP Conference on Community
Engagement in Higher Education 3 to 5 September 2006
In today’s global world, where rapid socio-economical, technological and informational
changes take place in modern sectors of society, higher education institutions face new
challenges to provide timely and proper responses to an urgent need for distributed learning
opportunities to all. Relevant knowledge, considered to be the most effective mean for local
empowerment and community self-sustained development, must be accessible to all sectors
of population in order to assure better levels of life quality. To improve local capacities at
less privileged communities means to promote individual and collective self-managed skills
and self-esteem that facilitate the needed conditions to assure accepted standards on health,
nutrition, productivity, family and community integration, and sound environmental
indicators, as well as on income distribution and assets procurement.
Another basic criterion for global world functioning is
. All nations and all
sectors of a given society are interrelated. Economic growth depends on expanding
differentiated markets. Larger and stronger markets depend on increased and better
distributed consumption of goods and services. And increased rational consumption
depends on higher productivity and awareness, as well as availability of financial resources
in a significantly wider array of the world population. Sustained development and quality of
life for all nations in the long term depend on the way local communities, across the glove,
deal effectively with environmental issues, water supplies, public infrastructure,
productivity, nutrition, health, family integration and, as a consequence, decreased
To promote local self-sustained development in less privileged communities is
to work for the well-being of all nations in an interdependent world.
What is then the role
of Higher Education in the context of a most needed social distribution of relevant
knowledge? What universities can do to play a significant role in the promotion of local
empowerment for self-sustained development? How these institutions can contribute to
certify differential levels of relevant knowledge among members of a given community and
evaluate the social impact of their engagement?
Historically, universities have concentrated in the training of the elite workforce around the