Higher Education and Research

The Heritage of European Universities

In October 1997, the (then) 41 Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe member countries held their Second Summit in Strasbourg. Among other things, they decided to launch a campaign in 1999 on the theme "Europe, a common heritage", respecting cultural diversity. Thereby the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the commitment undertaken at their First Summit in Vienna in 1991 to pluralist and parliamentary democracy, the indivisibility and universality of human rights, the rule of law and a common cultural heritage enriched by its diversity.

The project on the heritage of European universities was one of these five projects. It also deserves mention for another reason: it was a joint project between two different departments and committees of the Council of Europe, namely those responsible for cultural heritage and those responsible for higher education. This cooperation was natural if one looks at the topic chosen and on the origin of the project. When the Campaign was launched, the Higher Education and Research Committee asked itself – as well as the Cultural Heritage Committee – whether the universities did not constitute an important part of the common heritage of Europe. The answer could only be a resounding affirmation, and the project was set on its course. Both Committees undertook the project as a joint commitment, and this book is the outcome of a fruitful cooperation.

However, anyone with experience of large institutions will also know that while cooperation may seem both necessary and logical, this alone does not ensure that cooperation will actually take place. It is our pleasure, as those responsible for the sectors of Cultural Heritage and Education, to present to the readers today a publication that shows a will to rethink aspects of two sectors which certainly have things in common, but which under normal circumstances happily live their separate lives.

The introduction to the publication can be accessed here. For full publication in hard copy, please contact the Council of Europe Bookshop.