The task of dealing exhaustively with the subject of Universities and the Business World: Challenges for the Future within twenty minutes is one which cannot be fulfilled to anyone’s satisfaction. The subject matter is simply too complex, a lecture of even a full hour would not be sufficient: rather, a whole course over a semester would be appropriate. Due to the limited time accorded for my speech, I would like to restrict myself to the main points, naming a few aspects of the subject which, from my point of view, are central.
My lecture on European universities in the Bologna process is divided into four parts.
The first section examines science and its relationship to government. A famous German scientist, Goethe, who was also a politician and poet, coined a delightful sentence about science: "to one man it is the highest thing, a heavenly goddess; to another it is a productive and proficient cow who supplies him with butter." Whoever wants butter has to give the cow plenty to eat, but even goddesses cannot live on air alone.
I am happy to hear that I am supposed to speak German.
I did not know how multilingual the conference was. First I received a letter from the vice-chancellor in German, then, everything printed in English. Herr Professor Kinzig introduces me in English. Alors j’ai preparé un document en Français, si ça ne vous derange pas.
Actually I was a bit unsure in reference to the topic: universities and politics, friends or enemies? I asked some colleagues at my university: What do you think about such a topic? Either I got a contradictory answer or no answer at all.
I am convinced that if the divides in our world between North and South, rich and poor, religious and secular, us and them, are to be bridged, then we need to give more emphasis to a values-led or ethical approach to national and international policy-making, drawing on the international human rights framework.
I also feel strongly that we need to engage and involve a wider range of constituencies in the work of building bridges of understanding and shared responsibility. There is a clear case for involving universities directly: after all, the opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights describe it as: