The appropriate relationship between universities and society is difficult to understand and to manage. How can universities balance their various roles as educational institutions and sites of pure and applied research to maximize their value to society? Is the connection between industry and university research transparent and constructive? How has this relationship changed over time? All universities, including Saskatchewan’s, are grappling, everyday, with these questions.
To advance this discussion, a working group composed of representatives from the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy, the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan are planning a conference which will be held in Saskatoon on November 9-10, 2005. This conference will focus on the theme of how changes in the external environment – in particular, the demands created by the “new economy” with respect to research, technology transfer and training – have affected post-secondary institutions, and how universities are redefining or rearticulating their role as social actors.
Saskatchewan universities, like their counterparts across the county, have responded to external forces and generated new strategies for meeting the needs of local, national and global communities into the future. For example, they have explored government and industry partnerships in fields like agricultural biotechnology and energy; they have turned their attention to the potential for economic and cultural development in Aboriginal communities; they have supported and promoted research on environmental issues related to resource industries, water and northern ecosystems; and they have encouraged cultural and artistic activity in new forms and for new audiences.
This conference will encourage consideration and discussion of various analytical approaches to what is broadly termed “innovation”, as well as draw on the experiences of universities and their partners inside and outside Saskatchewan as they adjust to a new environment. A series of commissioned papers, circulated to participants beforehand, will explore conceptual issues, and there will be opportunities for scholars, business and research leaders and representatives of community organizations to engage in debate and dialogue about these important issues.
The issues which the conference will examine – whether or how universities should reorder their priorities in order to accommodate new demands and pressures from the outside; how universities can maintain their autonomy while forging new kinds of links with government, industry and communities; how universities can find and build on a sense of place while continuing to meet national and international standards – are all significant ones for future policies concerning post-secondary education.
“One of our main goals is to encourage a vigorous exchange of views among participants coming to these issues from many different perspectives – from different parts of the country, from universities, from business, from government, from Aboriginal communities, from our towns, cities and farms,” says Beth Bilson, of the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan, who has been chairing the planning group. Bilson adds, “A post-conference publication of the papers and proceedings will capture the main themes of the conference, and allow us to build on these themes in future discussions.”
Registration details will be available shortly. For additional information, please contact:
Beth Bilson (at email@example.com for details about the program)
SIPP (at firstname.lastname@example.org for details about registration)
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