University G7 looks at global citizenship, higher education

'Possibly subject to economic interests but necessary' - Rugge

(ANSA) - Udine, June 8 - The link between global citizenship and higher education will be the theme of one of the four discussions at the G7 university event June 29-30. The event in the northeastern Italian city of Udine is organized by the Italian national university rectors conference (CRUI) in collaboration with the Friuli Venezia Giulia regional government, Fondazione Friuli, the University of Udine and the education ministry. Over 150 university rectors, professors and students from G7 nations will take part in the initiative, part of the Italian 'Conoscenze in Festa' knowledge festival. "Citizenship has three basic dimensions: political, legal and socio-cultural," the coordinator of the discussion and University of Pavia rector Fabio Rugge wrote in a preparatory document. "However, given the changes that have occurred over the past few decades, these three dimensions have taken on a transnational and global breadth. "And higher education, which played a decisive role in the building of nation states over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, can today also be seen as the most effective factor in development of global citizenship.
    "Even from a historical standpoint, universities were created and were present in much of Europe long before the formation of nation states," Rugge stressed, "and they had a cosmopolitan aspect, enjoying as they did privileges and immunity compared with territorial powers." The Pavia University rector said that university education could currently contribute substantially to the building of a global citizenship through "the international mobility of students, and national and international networks of qualification (QFS), the presence everywhere of a growing number of programs and courses on globalization and internationalization, and networks between universities." The G7 discussion will focus on the positive and negative aspects of this process.
    "Among the negatives," Rugge pointed out, "is the risk of 'homologation', the fact that certain international structures can be subject to economic interests, as well as the possibility that a dominant country might exercise its power over others." In conclusion, though "the theory and the practice of global citizenship is still fragile and imprecise," the coordinator said, "nothing similar to what we call global citizenship can become a substantial characteristic of the institutional and intellectual landscape of the planet without a decisive contribution of the universities from around the entire world."