University rankings are becoming increasingly influential around the world. These systems are mostly research oriented, and count factors such as external funding, numbers of articles and books written by faculty members, library resources, etc. But universities have different missions and goals, and some are not included in the rankings. University civic engagement is one of them.
This topic was discussed at the Campus Compact 30th Anniversary Conference, that took place a few months ago in Boston. I moderated a panel organized by Talloires Network with my colleagues Lorene Hoyt, Gul Zehra and Hector Opazo.
Our main point is that universities around the world are committed to strengthening the social responsibility of higher education by improving conditions in communities and responding to global challenges such as poverty, health, and illiteracy, while improving students´ learning. Given the social and academic relevance of this mission, it is necessary to develop rankings that take civic engagement as criteria.
This session engaged participants in the development of an alternative approach to rankings that values contributions to and from communities and public goods. The debate evolved around issues such as: Improving current rankings and developing civic engagement rankings, national, international and global rankings on civic engagement, agreed criteria of university civic engagement, benefits and limitations, and alternatives to rankings.
There was an agreement on the need to improve the current rankings and developing a classification system that considers civic engagement and social responsibility practices essential in the reshaping of higher education. Much is still to be done in this field, but the debate is open...