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Welcome plenary eva egron polak

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Welcome plenary eva egron polak

  1. 1. IAU Secretariat - UNESCO House – 1, rue Miollis, F-75732 Paris Cedex 15, France – Tel : +33 (0)1 45 68 48 00 – Fax : +33 (0) 1 47 34 76 05 – iau@iau-aiu.net - www.iau-aiu.net Welcome Plenary Notes for presentation by IAU Secretary General, Eva Egron-Polak Bonjour et bienvenue à la 6e Réunion mondiale des Associations d’Universités (GMA), organisée par l’AIU en partenariat avec l’OUI et avec l’Université de Montréal qui nous accueillent à HEC durant les deux jours à venir. Merci à tous et à toutes d’être venus à cette réunion et j’espère que vous êtes prêts à discuter et à prendre activement part aux débats qui porteront sur notre thématique – l’innovation sociale. Good morning and welcome. I would like, first of all, to thank our partner IOHE and our host, the University of Montreal for so readily accepting our invitation to collaborate on this Global Meeting of Associations, which IAU holds every two years. Since 2005 we have met, each time on a different topic in a different part of the world from Alexandria, Egypt where we held the first meeting, to Guadalajara, Mexico, New Delhi, India, passing by Paris, France and Manchester, in the UK and now here in Montreal. We had initially planned to meet in Accra, Ghana where, in collaboration with the Association of African Universities (AAU) and hosted by the University of Ghana, we were to discuss the general theme of private participation in higher education. Due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, it was difficult to plan the meeting, so we agreed to postpone this GMA in Africa until 2017 and we turned to the IOHE and University of Montreal for the 6th edition. We had the opportunity to discuss this plan yesterday with Prof. Etienne Ehilé of the AAU and Prof. Aryeetey the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana who are both here, and we are happy to be able to confirm that we will be able to welcome the Associations to Accra, Ghana in 2017, in a somewhat different format and for an equally interesting meeting. In changing partners and changing the venue, we also changed the theme for this 6th edition of the GMA. IAU prides itself for focusing its meetings and conferences on fundamental issues; on those topics that explore the role higher education and universities play in the wider society and how they can improve lives locally and globally; how they take up their social responsibility alongside the other important missions. We know that universities face many challenges that make the lives of our Members both institutional and organizational ever more demanding and complicated. Yet we also know that support for higher education depends on the public assessment of its value. Yes, higher education and universities are expected to increase competitiveness and ensure employability of graduates, they are also expected to bring answers to major global challenges and offer solutions or responses to the
  2. 2. IAU Secretariat - UNESCO House – 1, rue Miollis, F-75732 Paris Cedex 15, France – Tel : +33 (0)1 45 68 48 00 – Fax : +33 (0) 1 47 34 76 05 – iau@iau-aiu.net - www.iau-aiu.net major societal dilemmas and to address at least some of the problems of society locally and globally, such as inequality, injustice, ethnic conflicts and many others. Though there is a general love affair with technology and though technological innovation dominates the policy discourse of decision makers and politicians, most problems faced by society are social problems and these, for the most part cannot be solved by technology nor can they be solved by any one institution or organization. This makes our Meeting’s theme, Social Innovation, so critical. We will hear many definitions of the concept of Social Innovation – and in fact you can read a number of articles about Social Innovation in the most recent edition of the IAU Horizons, our Association’s magazine. But no matter what the definition may be, and notwithstanding the importance of conceptual clarity for research and replication, over the next two days, I hope that we will have ample opportunity to discuss Social innovation in action and to debate how to measure its impact on society and on citizens, how to demonstrate its value. The sessions we have include in the programme include discussion of the actors with which universities can engage and how the interaction among the different actors can be organized and structured for maximum benefit. We have sessions on measuring impact and how Social Innovation is currently promoted and valued within the academic setting In seeking the clarity of the concept, we have also asked a panel of experts to distinguish between the Social impact of innovation, on the one hand, and the impact of Social Innovation on the other hand En Français, il s’agit de distinguer entre l’impact social de l’innovation et l’impact de l’innovation sociale – ce n’est pas nécessairement pas la même chose. Throughout the two days, we must continuously consider the specific role of universities in Social innovation, as institutions of learning, of research and of course of outreach - what role can the university play in social innovation in each of these functions, how can we ensure that this role is facilitated, understood and recognized? And of course, we will consider what role, if any, associations of universities like IAU or IOHE and all others whose representatives are here can play in this area. Of course we have included a few case study presentations by experts who will share their very diverse experiences in developing models of social innovation in their specific context with us as well. Let me end on two final points – as a global membership association of universities and university associations and networks, I am very pleased to underline that the participating higher education representatives present here are from all continents and from a large variety of organizations. So we will learn how social innovation is developing in a variety of situations and contexts. As you can see this, as is always the case for the GMA, is not a large meeting so we hope it will be highly interactive and offer each of you a great opportunity for networking with colleagues. Let me thank all of you once again for joining us. Last but not least, let me remind you that tomorrow morning, we will begin at 8h30 with two special presentations – first a brief presentation on the IAU activities especially for those of you who are not very familiar with the work of the IAU.
  3. 3. IAU Secretariat - UNESCO House – 1, rue Miollis, F-75732 Paris Cedex 15, France – Tel : +33 (0)1 45 68 48 00 – Fax : +33 (0) 1 47 34 76 05 – iau@iau-aiu.net - www.iau-aiu.net Second, we will also have a presentation of a Global Project on Strengthening Community University Research Partnerships – a project spearheaded by Budd Hall and Crystal Trembley from Victoria University in BC. As you will note the definition of Social Innovation that we have adopted for the Meeting stresses a number of points: focus on solving problems, focus on working with communities and other actors in civil society and industry, focus on serving the collectivity rather than individuals and a focus on sustainably improving livers of people. Who could not want to find ways to do that? And in a real sense, who could argue that universities do not, already do that. I think our task is to learn how to do it better and more, and I think this meeting will help us to learn from one another. Thank you for coming to share your expertise with us.

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