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Mike Ciavarella's picture

Given the complexity of present and
future global challenges, it is the university´s social responsibility
to contribute to society by understanding the full extent of its needs
and current and future problems, and to prepare it to deal with them
effectively and efficiently (CMES, 2009)1. In this sense, due to its
ability to take the lead in matters of knowledge creation, promotion and
dissemination, the university becomes the ultimate guidance governments
possess in their quest to find solutions to inequality and exclusion.
Thus, reaching higher levels of education that promote the training of
concerned citizens, committed to seeking the welfare and progress of
their peoples. The social calling of the university includes the
transmission of the necessary culture, values, skills and attitudes to
achieve an ethical, responsible, caring and transformer behavior of the
human being. Therefore, it should encourage their integration and
participation in the economic, political, social and cultural fields.
The Regional Conference on Higher Education for Latin America and the
Caribbean (CRES2 by its Spanish acronyms), held in Cartagena de Indias
in 2008, raised the need for the education in Latin America and the
Caribbean to contribute to a democratic coexistence and tolerance, a
continental identity and a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, and to
create equal opportunities of access for the poor, contributing to the
social and productive transformation of societies in the region. Hence,
the quality of an education committed to the values and public goals
could never be a factor of more inequity and barbarism, instead it
should generate opportunities and possibilities that propitiate a more
advanced civilization. As part of its social responsibility, the
university should place the urgent and serious issues of humanity at the
center of its agenda, orienting knowledge, and all its critical skills
in view of the highest ideals of freedom, social justice, peace and
development. In that way, the responses of higher education to social
demands must be based on the reflective, rigorous, critical and
1 UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education. The social
responsibility of higher education. Paris, 2009. Final Communiqué
ED.2009/CONF.402/2. At:
UNESCO. Declaration of the Regional Conference on Higher Education in
Latin America and the Caribbean. Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, 2008.
capacity of the university community to define their goals and fulfill their working guidelines3.
ideas have full effect on the commitment of the Cuban university in the
ongoing effort to improve the quality of its product research, teaching
and extension, so much so, that the scientific policy of the Ministry
of Higher Education of the Republic of Cuba has focused on obtaining
research results of great relevance, in order to solve the main problems
of our country´s socio-economic development. These scientific outcomes
are to be applied and generalized in the various branches and sectors of
the economy, and other areas of society. On the other hand, the
interaction between universities and state agencies, enterprises and
other entities is being increased, so as to meet professionals´ training
and improvement needs by using the most suitable postgraduate
In the Inaugural Conference of the International Congress
Universidad 2012, the former Cuban Higher Education Minister Miguel
Diaz-Canel Bermúdez said:
"If we accept that the university is the
quintessential social institution best able to preserve, enhance and
disseminate culture in its broadest sense, it is logical to expect that
the institution is the one to put the most advanced knowledge to the
service and safeguard of humanity, in the most comprehensive and
inclusive way possible. It could be said then, that we need to strongly
defend two very closely related convictions. The first is that higher
education should be considered as a social public asset that benefits
society as a whole, and the second is that it is largely of its concern
to encourage changes and not just react to new developments ..."
conceptual elements that derive from the social responsibility of the
university, the diversity of ways to implement policies and to put into
practice actions to that endeavor, constitute important topics to
discuss, in order to face current challenges and future directions of
contemporary higher education.
3 To deepen, see: Aponte – Hernández,
E. (2008). Desigualdad, inclusión y equidad en la Educación Superior en
América Latina. In: Tendencias de la Educación Superior en América
Latina y el Caribe. IESALC-UNESCO, 2008.
4Alarcón Ortiz, R., Minister
of Higher Education. Higher Education Ministry Report to the National
Assembly of the People´s Power(Parliament). July, 2012.
5 Díaz-Canel
Bermúdez, M., current Vicepresident of the Council of Ministers.
Inaugural Conference of the 8th International Congress Universidad 2012,
Ministry of Higher Education, Havana, February, 2012.
Due to the
stated reasons, the Ministry of Higher Education of the Republic of Cuba
and the Cuban universities call to the 9th International Congress on
Higher Education "Universidad 2014", for a socially responsible
university, an issue of particular importance in the debate about the
university we need.
Scientific Committee, Universidad 2014.


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