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UNU System

Globalization 2007

29 & 30 August, 2007 · UNU Centre, Tokyo


(160 KB PDF)

Background Paper
by Hans d'Orville, Director, Bureau of Strategic Planning, UNESCO


Speakers' biographies

A Copernican change has taken place with regard to the roles of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). No longer do national systems of higher education lend prestige to their constituent parts, the institutions: rather, the opposite is true. It is the internationally acknowledged qualities of individual institutions which lend prestige to the national systems to which they belong.

HEIs are becoming more internationalized as they increasingly cooperate and compete with other institutions worldwide and as they prepare their students, drawn more and more from abroad, for the new realities of globalized labour and business markets.

Globalization drives vital new themes in education and research, not only in the sciences (information and communications technologies, nanotechnology, climate change, sustainable development), but also socially, culturally, and politically (ethics and values, migration, health and welfare, cultural diversity, intercultural leadership and entrepreneurship, reconciliation and peacebuilding). In a world that demands greater cognizance, cooperation, and connectivity, HEIs become important international platforms for collaboration and dialogue and for the exchange and analysis of innovative new ideas.

About the conference

This international conference provides a forum for exploring how higher education can and should help humanity chart and navigate the pathways towards a shared future. Conference participants will discuss the challenges that globalization poses as well as the opportunities that it offers higher education. Attention will focus on institutions of higher education, their changing scope and responsibilities, the evolving environment in which they function, and their institutional responses.

In the keynote presentations and panel session on the 29 August 2007, eminent experts from around the world will present an overview of the changing roles of higher education in our increasingly knowledge-intensive, globalized world and discuss emerging patterns and themes. Special attention will be given to higher education in Africa. In the workshop sessions on the following day, panellists will explore today's challenges and opportunities in six parallel sessions focusing on (1) research, innovation and human and social development, (2) education for democracy, dialogue and peace, (3) intercultural leadership and change, (4) education for sustainable development, (5) access and success, and (6) e-learning.




About the Conference Organizers


United Nations University (UNU) is an autonomous organ of the United Nations established by the General Assembly. In the three decades since UNU launched operations in 1975, the University has grown to encompass UNU Centre in Tokyo, a global network of 14 research and training centres/programmes, liaison offices at UN Headquarters and UNESCO Headquarters, and several UNU Associated Institutions. UNU operates as an international community of scholars with the mission of contributing "to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States".

UNU research, capacity development, and dissemination activities are focused within five thematic areas: peace and security; good governance — from local to global; development and poverty reduction; environment and sustainability; and science, technology, and society. More information is available at


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations system. According to its constitution, the Organization’s main objective is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the world’s nations through education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion. UNESCO pursues its action through five programme sectors: education; natural sciences; social and human sciences; culture; and communication and information. The Organization is headquartered in Paris, with over 50 field offices and several specialized institutes and centres throughout the world. Founded in 1946, UNESCO currently has 192 Member States and 6 Associate Members. The Director-General is Koïchiro Matsuura (Japan). More information is available at


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