While I don’t have much hope that the present limited participatory political system or unfettered capitalism will deliver world-wide well-being, I do have hope that universities – who are in touch with the local everyday – could help to make unique and significant contributions to the creation of truly sustainable and flourishing futures.
Political parties – even those who pride themselves on integrity, such as the Greens – find themselves focusing on the election cycles to get and retain power and so tend to gravitate towards safe, status quo issues and framing of issues.
The capitalist system and free market competition have resulted in much innovation from which many have benefited, especially when unlimited resources seemed to be available. However, now with the economy being global, and competition for resources intensifying, unless we find new, resource-light ways to work together, we are likely to all become losers.
There is certainly a need for innovation and collaboration – however, this time it has to be driven by care – for each other and our habitat.
I’d like to see universities connect more with people in their local areas, so together they can produce more robust knowledge that can meet real needs (local and global), both now and into the future.
I think the world is fortunate to have universities – as centres of knowledge creation – in its localities. However, I fear that without a sense of a mission, universities will find themselves trying to please political masters and markets within very narrow horizons and so will soon, end up pleasing no one.
I also think that societies that want to have sustainable and flourishing medium and long-term futures need to mandate and support universities to contribute in these longer time frames, so that we are not at the mercy of ad hoc wants of decision-makers. No other institutions are equipped to take needed longer-term views.
I worry that the precious freedom for thinking and knowledge creation, for the longer as well as the immediate future, is not adequately recognised or appreciated, including even by many in the universities.
What do you think? I know there are lots of distracting pressures, but surely academic sites focused on knowledge for sustainable future well-being and flourishing, are of primary and urgent importance.