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Jun 27, 2017

ID-E Berlin - Conference 2017

Exploring Difference: The Third Mission of Universities

How can we make our research understood in society? What is the relevance of universities in today’s world? What is the Third Mission?

These questions, and many more, were the focus of the 2017 International Dialogue on Education, held on 27 June 2017 at the Harnack-Haus in Berlin. Experts and university personnel from Germany (Wolfgang Stark, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Development at the University of Duisburg-Esse), the United States (Carolyn Campbell-Golden, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, Auburn University at Montgomery), the United Kingdom (Andrew Disbury, Vice-Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the West of Scotland) and the Netherlands (Hans Amman,  Director Innovation Exchange Amsterdam) came together to discuss institutional strategies for integrating technology and knowledge transfer, as well as societal engagement into higher education.

ID-E Berlin - the conference panelists at the Harnack-Haus

The aim of the conference was to fill the concept of the third mission of universities with life and enrich the debate and recent developments in Germany with insights from an international perspective. The experts from Canada, the US, the UK, and Germany discussed how higher education institutions can be successful on their way to more transfer and partnership cooperation with stakeholders from business and society.

Key questions were:

  • What is your university’s overall strategy regarding collaboration with business and society?
  • How are the strategic goals reflected in organizational structures, services and communication? Which organizational, communicative and financial preconditions need to be fulfilled, in order to accomplish the third mission of a university?
  • Which incentives and evaluation tools are needed for new forms of collaboration?
  • Which (national or regional) political framework and conditions hinder or foster cooperation?
  • How can value for all partners be created? How can work be effectively divided between partners?
  • What does business, and what does civil society expect from universities?
  • What are current challenges? What are key recommendations?
Carolyn Campbell-Golden on the ID-E panel

Fulbright alumna Carolyn Campbell-Golden from Auburn University at Montgomery explained her university’s role in technology transfer and community service through an institution called the Research Park at Auburn University, which connects technological firms and university researchers. The Third Mission is also fulfilled at Auburn University at Montgomery with outreach and service provided by faculty, staff and students at local and national schools in underserved communities. In  addition, she explained  the  importance  of advisory councils  as part of universities in the United States, comprised of local community members and industry professionals as part of a top-down approach of societal engagement. 

The conference - moderated by science and education journalist Jan-Martin Wiarda - was aimed at university leaders, interested persons from university administration and academia, representatives of politics, civil society and companies.

A detailed conference summary and further photos from the event are available on the ID-E website.


Photo credit: Stefan Zeitz/DAAD

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