The Role of universities in the transformation of societies: an international research project

Brennan, John; King, Roger and Lebeau, Yann (2004). The Role of universities in the transformation of societies: an international research project. Centre for Higher Education Research and Information/Association of Commonwealth Universities, London.


The project on which this report is based brought together more than 25 researchers from 15 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa (including South Africa), Central Asia and Latin America. Its aim was to increase understanding of the various ways in which universities and other higher education institutions generate, contribute to or inhibit social, economic and political change. Its focus was on countries and regions that had recently undergone, or were undergoing, major transformation.

This report synthesizes the findings reported in a set of more specific national, institutional and thematic reports produced by the project. These consisted of national reports from Bulgaria, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa; overview reports from Brazil and Mexico; institutional reports from private universities in Belarus, Bulgaria, Kyrgzstan and Russia; and a set of reports from research fellows supported by the Open Society Institute drawing on experiences from Bangladesh, Estonia, Poland, India and Slovenia and providing additional perspectives on Bulgaria and Russia.

The project was co-ordinated jointly by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI) of the UK Open University. It received financial support from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Open Society Institute and the Swedish Foundation for International Co-operation in Research and Higher Education (STINT).

This report attempts to highlight both the roles universities have played in the orchestration and management of wider social transformations and the ways in which they have themselves been transformed by wider social processes.

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