Reinventing the Public Mission of Higher Education

Researchers, policy makers, and graduate students from more than a dozen countries gathered on Homewood campus in late September for the 15th Higher Education Reform Conference, hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Education, to explore the contributions that higher education might make on its communities and societies.

Hosted by School of Education Dean Christopher Morphew, and chaired by Assistant Professor Antigoni Papadimitriou, this year’s conference focused on the theme “Reinventing the Public Mission of Higher Education: Policies and Practice” and included thought-provoking discussions on the role of higher education and its impact on the communities it serves. Speakers represented countries with different historical, cultural and economic traditions of higher education, including Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, Slovenia, and South Africa, as well as the United States.

“Higher education institutions around the globe are charged with a public mission and often financed with public resources,” says Papadimitriou, an assistant professor with the School of Education. “The missions are many and often in tension with one another; they connect higher education institutions to different communities and different formulations of the public good.”

Panelist Matthew Hartley, associate dean for academic affairs and professor at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, opened the conference with a keynote lecture that discussed universities as democratic institutions and how they uphold that mission. His work explores how university leaders respond to major educational reforms, and among other issues, he has studied how disparate nations such as Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Singapore, and India have sought to establish world-class universities.

Ratna Sarkar, Johns Hopkins University’s vice provost for institutional research, also delivered a keynote address with her presentation: “Hopkins in the Community: The Role of Data and Information to Guide Action.”

HER 2018