Edited by Jean L. Pyle and Robert Forrant
Chapter 9: The University, Public Interest Research, and Advocacy Assistance: Lessons on the Role of Academia in Promoting Sustainable Development
9. The university, public interest research and advocacy assistance: lessons on the role of academia in promoting sustainable development Cathy Crumbley and Joel Tickner I. INTRODUCTION Globalization as currently practiced challenges universities to realign many of their practices with market-based principles. At the same time most universities have a mission to serve the larger public. The public may be imperilled by globalization processes that threaten public health, the environment and social stability. Thus, as outlined by Pyle and Forrant (Chapter 1, this volume), the current wave of globalization means that many universities face limited ﬁnancial resources while at the same time we are facing ‘increasingly complex social, economic and technical problems that require new strategies to eﬀectively address them.’ This chapter highlights two ways that universities can respond to these challenges of globalization. One way is to conduct research and provide technical assistance within a long-term vision for sustainability that serves the broader public interest. Another important role is to use this research and knowledge to develop the capabilities of citizen organizations or NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Such technical and informational support can help level the playing ﬁeld for NGOs which often operate with technical and resource disadvantages compared to other political players and institutions. It can therefore enable citizens to participate more eﬀectively in public debates and in local, regional and national institutions, including government. (We use the word ‘citizen’ in a broader sense than just legal citizenship to emphasize the potential for all residents of a given...
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