In January of 2014, I presented two different presentations at the World Universities Forum in Lisbon Portugal. The first presentation was entitled “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered student rights on Italian campuses,” which focused on the rise of LGBT rights on the college campuses throughout Italy. The second presentation was entitled “Increasing international understanding of tertiary education systems: Comparative education and international understanding.”
The World Universities Forum seeks to explore the meaning and purpose of the academy in times of striking social transformation. These discussion forums bring together university administrators, teachers and researchers to discuss the prospects of the academy and to exemplify or imagine ways in which the university can take a leading and constructive role in the transformations of our times.
Today, universities face significant challenges to their traditional position in society. Contemporary knowledge systems are becoming more distributed and learning ubiquitous. Where does this leave the university, as an historically specialized and privileged place for certain kinds of knowledge and learning, as an institutionally bounded space? What do these changes mean for the mission and structures of the renewed university? What are emerging as principal areas of the academic interest?