Revisiting Universities: The Challenge of the 21st Century

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Anne-Laure Mention
João José Pinto Ferreira
Marko Torkkeli


Delivering impact is nowadays on top of the agenda of universities, worldwide. But what exactly does that mean? Universities' primary mission is to educate the young generations, by providing them with basic knowledge on a wide array of topics and disciplines and most importantly, by training them how to continuously learn - learn by doing, by reflecting, by challenging facts and perceptions, critically and constructively. Yet, the education mission, which can be seen as a long term investment from nations into the development and nurturing of their capabilities, competitiveness and growth, is increasingly complemented and supplemented by another role: supporting economic growth in the short run. This pressure to generate and disseminate actionable knowledge, and support its application and immediate implementation into real life, contemporary businesses, entails a tremendous shift in the way universities operate, both in terms of time and space. And this undeniably creates tensions: it is common knowledge that universities and private sector firms are not sync in the way they think, act and deliver. (...)

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