The SPHERE project, funded by the European Commission, has held a seminar in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to explore the role and contributions of universities in local society and general development.

OBREAL participated in the event with Project Manager Nicole Font. A seminar that presents an opportunity to strengthen ties with the neighboring countries of the European Union, but also to exchange views and ideas on the role of universities in society.

During these 3 days in Samarkand we examined these contributions and their adaptability to specific contexts. We also explored strategies to maximize the impact of universities through key themes such as innovation in teaching or digitization.

seminar on the role of universities in the society in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Experts from Europe and partner regions and countries have shared cases from their institutions and countries. Thus, we have been able to analyze the achievements and challenges presented by these cases, acquiring a global understanding of the changing role of universities in their ecosystems. Beyond these analyses, we also explored institutional and national strategies aimed at improving collaboration between academia, industry and civil society.

The challenges of the “third mission” of universities

The commitment of universities to society, known as the “third mission of universities”, has many dimensions that are constantly evolving. The environment in which these institutions operate is very changeable. The needs of the labor market, climate change or digitalization and artificial intelligence change. And with them, the role of universities.

Faced with this changing scenario, both universities and their members are looking for ways to offer solutions to these social and economic challenges. At the same time, they compete for relevance and to show their commitment to society. For this reason, many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are establishing partnerships with companies and civil society.

To these pressures must be added others. That is, the trends of transdisciplinarity, continuous learning and open access to research and education. In addition, they are accountable to ministries, funding agencies and regulators. They all expect HEIs to demonstrate that their teaching, learning and research are beneficial and impactful.

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