Carla Facchini Andrea Vargiu

The Collective Societal Value of Universities

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The paper outlines the general framework of the relationship between universities and the social context and presents several very interesting innovative experiences. The first part of the paper summarizes the socio-institutional context of changing relationships between science and society in the last decades. These changes have led to a growing emphasis on the economic role of research and higher education organizations, but more recently there has been growing attention also towards a broader concept of collective university value. Hence the need to redefine the very idea of «third mission» as connected to both economic and social impact. As a matter of fact, the collective value of universities dates back to the end of the 18th century and has both European and Latin American origins – albeit with differences between these two strands. Nowadays, the renewed interest in this issue also by the European Commission suggests the need for institutional tools and political mechanisms aimed at producing effective alignments at all levels of the higher education system. The second part of the paper presents the contributions collected in the monographic issue of the journal, which concern both national and international experiences. In their concluding remarks, authors highlight currently relevant misalignments between the individual tension of academics for forms of research and education that are more publicly engaged and the mechanisms that regulate higher education at institutional and systemic level.


  • University
  • Third Mission
  • Public Engagement
  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Research


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