Higher Education and Research

Context and Challenge

Issues of democracy, its contents and culture as much as its form, define the political debate of our societies. In Europe, North America and other regions of the world, democracy is a major focus of public debate. Healthy democracies can only thrive and develop through open debate about the nature and future of democracy.

Yet, along with the global spread of democratic ideas and societies, a crisis of commitment to and practice of democracy persists. Democracy cannot exist without strong institutions and sound legislation, but it also cannot work without being based on democratic culture. Education and schooling are decisive forces shaping the democratic development of societies; and universities, in turn, are strategic institutions for the democratic development of schooling and societies.

A democratic culture encompasses democratic values, ways of knowing and acting, ethical judgments, analytical competencies, and skills of engagement. It includes concern for the sustainable well being of fellow human beings as well as of the environment in which we live. It includes awareness of and concern for human rights as well as openness to the cultural diversity of human experience and willingness to give due consideration to the views of others.

Higher education cannot remain indifferent to this challenge.

-> Visit The network for higher education and democratic culture

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  • Speech by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe