We have just started the second decade of a new century. We live in a globalized society, characterized by constant changes. It is clear that the innovative tendencies found nowadays on higher education cannot be separated from the influence of the two most incidental elements on its performance: globalization and the emergence of knowledge societies. Both merit broad reflections by specialists on various fields, so I will limit my analysis to their impact on the actual and future higher education.
As a response the challenges that these events pose to higher education, different processes of university transformation, every time more profound, are being implemented in almost every world region. They want to achieve, that the institution that we call “University”, overcomes the new challenges and survive, keeping what has been until now its own essence. That’s how the “World Declaration on Higher Education for the 21st Century” approved in Paris in 1998, understood it, when it mentioned that in order to face those challenges, universities should undertake the “most radical reform that they’ve ever faced”.
Globalization is a multidimensional process, stimulated by the rapid technologic advance of computer sciences and communication. However, economic and financial globalization is the one that drags the other dimensions, and it is characterized for being asymmetrical: global economy has not lead to the creation of a truly global society where the benefits are fairly distributed, but has lead to an increasing inequality between nations and within them.
In the face of this situation, no other entity is better equipped than the University to confront this civilizing challenge, told us the memorable rector P. Xabier Gorostiaga, S.J. So, the first challenge that the University of the XXI should face, is to assume critically globalization, make it the object of its reflections and research, and introduce the study of its complex condition as a cross curricular subject in its program.