The current strong emphasis on the articulation of higher education and the workplace reflects a widespread assumption that the purpose of universities is to produce workers to fit employment opportunities and industrial needs.
In recent years the situation of universities has been profoundly transformed by policies following on from economic rationalism that have altered, in ways not yet fully developed or understood, the composition of the student body, the processes of selection, the relationship between student and teacher, and the understanding of what a tertiary qualification means.
It would be a mistaken strategy to dwell too nostalgically on other versions of the university. There is no benefit in simply pitting an intractable rhetoric of culture, personal development and ethical values against an equally intransigent language of utility, vocation and marketability. It is not only expedient but accurate to accept that university courses have some vocational function and content, while also arguing for the intrinsic social and individual benefit of our disciplines. The time has come to campaign effectively for the rehabilitation of the generalist degrees, building on the respect within the community for the intellectual skills embedded in them.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.