From Ivory Tower to Academic Commitment and Leadership
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From Ivory Tower to Academic Commitment and Leadership

The Changing Public Mission of Universities

Amalya Oliver-Lumerman and Gili S. Drori

How is the public mission of universities to change in the face of today’s global challenges? How is the 21st Century university to balance its long-standing traditions and its commitment to teaching, research and commercialization with rapidly changing social needs and conditions worldwide? And how does the newly defined public role of the university reflect on changes to non-profit organizations in general? Amalya Oliver-Lumerman and Gili S. Drori offer a new model of academic commitment and leadership in response to questions about the new public role of the university.
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Chapter 2: Public mission of universities: from ontology, to terminology, to strategy

Amalya Oliver-Lumerman and Gili S. Drori


With sweeping review of the history of universities - starting with the founding of the University of Bologna in 1088 and concluding with the global scope of higher education and science today - we show that the institution of a university has a long record of social engagement with and responsibility towards society. Yet, over the millennium-long university-society relations, this commitment has changed periodically through the addition of three academic missions: teaching, research and commercialization. Currently, with mounting challenges to the ethos of academia, universities are driven to seek a new form of engagement with society’s grand challenges. Such new form, we argue, is the academic commitment and leadership (ACL), which sets a new vision and strategy for universities to set for themselves a 4th academic mission.

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