Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2009 World Conference: “The New Dynamics of Higher Education”

The 2009 World Conference to be held from 5 to 8 July 2009 at UNESCO, Paris. The last World Conference on Higher Education was held in 1998 and this year's Conference will provide a forum for review of the changes in higher education that have occurred since that time. The participants will also consider the strategic agenda for the development of higher education policies and institutions in the foreseeable future.
To what extent is higher education today a driver for sustainable development in the national and international context? Does the sector live up to the expectations placed in it to induce change and progress in society and to act as one of the key factors for building knowledge-based societies? How does higher education contribute to the development of the education system as a whole? What are the most significant trends that will shape the new higher education and research spaces? How are learners and learning changing? What are the new challenges for “quality” and “equity”?
Last June a preparatory conference was held on Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Conference participants included 25 ministers, deputy ministers and state secretaries; rectors and directors of higher education institutions; in total, there were 3,500 participants from 33 countries. Thus the Paris Conference in July should be very well attended.

The 2009 Conference should be of great interest to universities, community colleges and other institutions of higher education in the United States. Moreover, given the strength and prestige of the U.S. higher education system, the Conference should provide an important opportunity for the Obama administration to make an initiative in public diplomacy.

I am told that in the distant past, the U.S. delegation to such an event might include the presidents of 50 American universities. I also understand that given the change in administration little has been done to date to select the U.S. delegation for July. Given the busy schedules of the key leaders of our higher education system, one hopes that nominations will be made soon.

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