The Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University, C. Raj Kumar, has called for autonomy and independence of universities with "a larger sense of responsibility towards fulfilling the common good".
Kumar made the observation at the prestigious 2019 Global University Leaders Council meeting held in Hamburg from June 5 to 7.
The forum was organised to initiate a dialogue among global university leaders on key current challenges that national higher education systems around the world were confronted with, particularly with regard to the relationship between universities and the society at large.
Kumar observed: "Universities need to re-imagine their institutional identity on the basis of a shared understanding of the common good.
"It is necessary that universities assert their autonomy and independence not just on the basis of curriculum and pedagogy, but also on the basis of a larger sense of responsibility towards fulfilling the common good.
"This recognition of the common good becomes the raison d'etre of universities around the world."
The Global University Leaders Council brought together 45 Presidents, Vice Chancellors and Rectors of leading global universities. The event was co-organised by the German Rectors' Conference, the Korber Foundation, and the University of Hamburg from June 5 to 7.
O.P. Jindal Global University was the only Indian higher education institution represented in this Council.
Asked to chair one of the five thematic sessions, Kumar said that universities should work towards the pursuit of knowledge and its dissemination through research that will improve the lives of people.
He said that universities should be engaged in education in the form of teaching and learning that will enable and empower the young people towards the development of enlightened global citizenship.
Universities should also be engaged in the pursuit of speaking truth to power through intellectual rigour, objective analysis and evidence-based research that will help in building informed citizenry and impact policy-making.
They should align the vision of contributing towards fulfilling the common good to the mission of institutional excellence so that what universities do is measured in line with this purpose and objective, he said.
The universities should also provide individual and institutional leadership in recognising the importance of pursuing common good and work towards developing societal consensus among all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector and the civil society, Kumar added.
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