Posted in Writings
Published in Times Higher Education
This September, I spoke at a conference commemorating the anniversary of the Magna Charta Universitatum. This stirring document, first affirmed by hundreds of universities in 1988 and revised in 2020, asserts the core principles of the academic enterprise. Held in Bologna and attended by university rectors from around the globe, the conference was a moving reminder of the values that bind our institutions. This year’s theme was, appropriately, “universities engaging with society in turbulent times.”
Evidence of this turbulence is all around us, from the horrors of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, to the disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic and the steady rise of populist rage and partisan vitriol in even the most stable democracies. These events have fuelled and been fuelled by precipitous declines in the health of democracy and public trust in core institutions.