Brunelle, Dorval (director) (2016) Social Mission of Universities of the Americas. Documents in four languages. IEIM (UQAM) – IOHE, Montreal.
We are currently celebrating the recent launch of the Montreal Institute of International Studies as a part of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE) who collected the works presented during Second Inter-American Symposium on the “La mission sociale des universités dans les Amériques”, held from October 21st to 23rd, 2014.
The publication of 467 pages, under the management of Dorval Brunelle, brings together 19 texts from 26 authors presented at the symposium, in the four official languages of the Americas: 10 in French, 4 in Spanish, 3 in English and 2 in Portuguese. It is important to note that readers will find in this publication, generally-speaking, an array of positions on how we approach the issue of the recent social mission of universities in the academic world of the Americas.
There is no doubt that through the IOHE this reflection was recently enhanced. Since the hosting of the first symposium of 2013 – this year we celebrate the fourth Colloquium – it is necessary to recognize the importance of the epistemological discussion on all issues around the topic of “social mission of universities”.
The initial themes were the conditions of entry, retention and graduation of students. These were added to other themes which included the underlying values in university training and, particularly, that of all projects that are generated in universities and that contribute to the economic, cultural and social development of their community. It is not unusual that this is happening in what we call “societies of knowledge” because most likely, as was historically never done before, universities are required to assume social responsibility in the creation of knowledge in order to adequately address local, regional, national, and global challenges.
In this perspective, we can understand that everything that came before was integrated under the title of “university extension”, and was relegated to being the third substantive function of universities after teaching and research. Today, it has acquired fundamental importance. This does not mean that teaching and research are not held at the highest level of importance, but that now the “social distribution of knowledge” not only determines changes in education and research, but also opens a space for innovation for academic institutions, redefining their response in the face of our modern world.
Consequently, dear readers, documents published in this book, that we have listed, are an important contribution to this discussion. Although it is obvious that this discussion must always be open because there is no unanimity in naming the social distribution of knowledge that makes universities: “a university extension”, “a community liaison”, “socially responsible”, “socially engaged”, etc. Each of these concepts have a defined vision of the relationship between University and Society.
In our case, we share the “radical perspective” of Luis Miguel Romero, whose work was published in this book. His work affirms the need to reverse the logic of concepts traditionally part of education and research, in order to go towards the proposed final goal of service to society, while currently doing this service to society the purpose, the foundation, rethinks the being and the action behind education and research”.