How Europe’s leading universities can – and must – stay at the forefront of the Knowledge Revolution
In a world driven by new technologies and constant, rapid innovation, ‘knowledge’ is the new capital of the globalised economy. The revolution in communications technology now makes knowledge available in new forms at the press of a button. The discoverers, disseminators and manipulators of knowledge have become the driving force of the modern economy. Our leading universities, major producers of knowledge, have a key role to play – and remain the key instruments of economic and social development.
At the same time, there are many new knowledge providers in this new world, ranging from company-based ‘universities’ and other independent groups, through think tanks and document centres, to sponsored advocacy groups. Universities, therefore, can no longer rely on its traditional monopoly of advanced knowledge and highly educated people. In order to compete, Europe’s leading universities need to seek out a new public and economic role at the heart of democratic society.
Just as the universities adapted to the arrival of the printing press, 500 years ago, so today they must adapt - and indeed are adapting - to a bigger challenge: the information revolution since the 1990s.
This was the thinking that led to the launch of a major international dialogue or ‘conversation’ involving university leaders, academics and students with business leaders, politicians, policy-makers and researchers. These conversations would take the form of an inquiry to study just how European universities can stay at the forefront of this new Knowledge Revolution, and indeed lead it.