Volume 22 of the Council of Europe Higher Education Series has just been published. Edited by Sjur Bergan and Ira Harkavy, Higher Education for Diversity, Social Inclusion and Community. A Democratic Imperative explores the democratic mission of higher education at a time when the Berlin Wall has been history for as long as it existed.
In spite of the optimism that followed the “fall of the Wall”, the democratic culture without which our institutions and laws will not function in practice is being challenged in ways we have not seen for at least a generation. Our societies are facing increasing difficulties in reconciling acceptance of diversity and social inclusion with the need for community. The search for simple solutions to complex problems, the fact that “fake news” and “alternative facts” are no longer seen as nonsensical expressions, our responses to migration and the “refugee crisis”, and the growth of populism in many parts of Europe present challenges to our societies, and not least to education.
This new book is a result of the long standing cooperation between the Council of Europe, the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy, the European Wergeland Centre and other partners to further the democratic mission of higher education. Authors from Europe, North America and South Africa outline how higher education could respond to these challenges. The first section makes a strong case for the continuing importance of higher education and research to modern society. The second focuses on higher education institutions and the need for inclusive and diverse campuses. The third section considers opportunities to improve the inclusion of refugees and immigrants in higher education. Whereas the focus in Europe is mostly on refugees, in the United States it is largely on immigrants, further accentuated by the debate on the Dreamers.