Next annual conference:   
World Universities Forum

World Universities Forum 2012


Fifth World Universities Forum:  Reinventing the University in a Time of Crisis

The 2012 World Universities Forum (WUF) will be held at the University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece from 8 to 10 January. This year’s WUF will be held in Greece thanks to the generosity and collaborative spirit of the conference host, the University of the Aegean, School of Humanities.

Inspired by the success of the World Economic Forum held each year in Davos, the World Universities Forum has developed into a key site for academic discussion on the current state and future possibilities of the university. The WUF has throughout the years welcomed delegates from dozens of countries around the world, numerous academic disciplines, and a range of professional areas including research, university administration, business, and policy-making. Now in its fifth year, the World Universities Forum maintains its commitment to a broad examination of the university, and invites paper proposals on a range of relevant topics.

However, given the dramatic impact of financial and political crises around world, the 2012 WUF will focus significantly on the ways in which these crises are bringing about major changes in the university itself, as well as in its relation to the society. It aspires to initiate a discussion on how we might engage this challenge in constructive ways, critically addressing long-dominant models of the university and considering new possibilities for its future. This focus is reflected accordingly, in the special theme: “Reinventing the University in a Time of Crisis.”

The WUF welcomes distinguished plenary speakers, all of whom will share their particular insights on this special theme, including:

  • Ronald Barnett, Professor, Institute of Education, University of London, United Kingdom
  • Fatma Gök, Professor and Chair, Educational Sciences Department, Bogaziçi University, Turkey
  • Barbara M. Kehm, Professor of Higher Education Research and Head, International Center for Higher Education Research, University of Kassel, Germany
  • António Nóvoa, Rector, University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • Marianna Papastefanou, Professor, Department of Education, University of Cyprus

In addition, given that the host country is in the midst of a major economic crisis and at the same time in the process of restructuring higher education, the program will feature the panel, “Reinventing the Greek University.” This panel will include, among other key Greek contributors:

  • Chryssi Vitsilaki, Professor and Director of Post-Graduate Program, School of the Humanities, University of the Aegean, Greece
  • Linda Katehi, Chancellor, University of California, Davis, USA
  • Mary Kalantzis, Dean, College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

The 2012 World Universities Forum is a continuation of an annual discussion that began in 2008 in Davos, Switzerland, and was held subsequently in Mumbai, India in 2009, Davos, Switzerland in 2010, and Hong Kong in 2011. If you would like to join the discussion, we welcome you to submit a presentation proposal for the 2012 Forum.

Proposals may be submitted for a number of thematic streams, including a special stream: “The Greek University: a Case in Point.” This special stream will not only highlight papers on Greek higher education and its many challenges; it will also serve the wider discussion about how universities, regardless of location, might deal with major socio-economic and political crises facing their respective nations. Selected papers from this stream will be published in an edited volume on Greek higher education, its past, present and future.

Presentation options include a 30-minute paper session, 60-minute workshop, jointly presented 90-minute colloquium and a virtual session.  All presenters are welcome to submit their written papers to the peer reviewed Journal of the World Universities Forum.  To submit a proposal, please see the Call for Papers.

A number of registration options are available for both presenting, and non-presenting, delegates. Potential delegates currently residing in Greece are eligible for a special reduced rate registration. For details on all options, see the Registration page.

The World Universities Forum also welcomes nominations for the Best Press, Best Policy and Best Practice in Higher Education. This year’s awards will recognize the most significant higher education accomplishments of 2011. To learn more about these awards, and to make nominations, please see the WUF Higher Education Awards page.

For all inquiries, please contact the Forum Secretariat.


The World Universities Forum is held annually in different locations around the world. The Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland in 2008; in conjunction with the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay, Mumbai, India in 2009; in the Congress Center Davos, Davos, Switzerland in 2010; and in Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong in 2011.

One of the paradoxical characteristics of our time is that some of the most creative thinking comes from business, politicians and other community leaders rather than academe. The World Universities Forum has been created in the belief that there is an urgent need for academe to connect more directly and boldly with the large questions of our time, in much the same way that the World Economic Forum has forged a role of global intellectual leadership for politicians, business people and community leaders.

Established in 1991, the World Economic Forum has been an important site for dialogue and debate regarding the major social and economic problems of the planet. At its annual meetings in Davos, it brings together the most astute thinkers and scholars and the most powerful economic and political organisations, to participate in wide-ranging conversations and set the agenda for on-going debates. It has become increasingly influential in shaping policy debates.

While much of the discussion at Davos concerns political and economic matters, the topics WEF considers have profound implications for universities around the world, not only in relation to their governance but also with respect to the issues of how best to interpret and respond to the global transformations. As they consider the broader context within which they are located, universities are not only more affected by the issues that WEF addresses than ever before, but they also have a greater role to play in solving the global problems and setting the agenda for the knowledge economy and society.

With the interests of WEF and universities increasingly aligned, the World Universities Forum (WUF) has been planned as a counterpoint, enabling a genuine exchange of ideas between political and economic leaders, University sector leaders and leading higher education scholars.