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#EAIR2019 Programme

#EAIR2019 Programme

Higher education institutions at the beginning of the 21st century: responsibility and social commitment at local and global levels.





Josep Maria Vilalta


August 25, 2019 at 4:45:00 PM



Higher education institutions and systems around the world are called to play an important role at the beginning of the 21st century. On the one hand, the emergence of the so-called knowledge economy and the democracy of knowledge give higher education institutions a strategic role for any country that wants progress and is competitive. On the other hand, the change of time in which we are immersed (with profound technological, scientific, cultural, social and work-related changes) also raises the need for dynamic educational and scientific institutions, with the capacity to rethink training systems, scientific research and innovation with a vision of social commitment. In this sense, the concepts of social responsibility of universities and the social commitment of higher education systems emerge in recent years. At the international level, the so-called Agenda 2030, a horizon of 17 Objectives for Sustainable Development (ODS), is being promoted, which aims to bring into practice an authentic global agenda of shared aims. Institutions and higher education systems also become critical agents in the local and global development of the Agenda 2030, as all the objectives have a partial answer in the work carried out by universities or in inter-institutional and international alliances where universities play an important role. Are higher education institutions prepared for this commitment and social responsibility? Do they have the right mechanisms (organizational, financial, cultural)? How is the social agenda organized in universities? For an institution or system of higher education, are commitments compatible locally and globally?


Josep M. Vilalta (Barcelona, ​​1965) is the Director of the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi), formed by UNESCO and ACUP, and Executive Secretary of the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP). Specialist in public management and public policies and in higher education and scientific research management. He holds an experience of thirty years on different leading positions on public sector organizations as well as on different higher education institutions. He has promoted and participated in various projects and groups of experts of the Government of Catalonia and the Government of Spain, the European Commission, the OECD, UNESCO, and several countries in education and universities, political science and public policy management.

He has published nearly a hundred papers for journal and publications, book chapters and books on public administration, public policy, education, universities and scientific research policy. He has been recently director of the Jaume Bofill Foundation Yearbooks "Challenges of education in Catalonia" and "An agenda for transforming education in Catalonia" and he has published a month ago “Building the Catalonia of Knowledge (1985-2015)”. He is member of the group of experts of the Spanish university policy think tank Studia XXI, member of the Advisory Boards of Fundació iSocial and ‘El Diari de l’Educació’. He is a regular contributor to different international publications and to the newspapers La Vanguardia, ARA and NacióDigital.

He holds a Degree in Geography and History (UB), a Master in Public Management (UAB), a Master in Political and Social Theory (UPF) and a Postgraduate in Management of Higher Education (Open University/Universiteit Twente). He has been promoter and director of the Master of Management and University Policy at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-Barcelona Tech and visiting professor in different institutions. Personal web:

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