Dear Leaders of Higher Education Associations,
Welcome to the sixth edition of the Global Meeting of Associations of Universities and other Higher Education Institutions (GMA 6) organized by the International Association of Universities!
Held every two years, exclusively for leaders of national, regional and international higher education associations/organizations and networks, the GMA offers a unique opportunity for you to meet as peers and colleagues to discuss important developments, exchange ideas, practices and to network. It is thus an honor for us to welcome you to Montreal, an international and multilingual city which we hope will provide an appropriate setting for our Meeting.
For this edition, IAU is pleased to partner with the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE) and the Université de Montréal, longstanding Members of the IAU. The theme we have chosen for this GMA is of growing importance to society and thus to higher education, namely:
Social innovation: challenges and perspectives for Higher Education.
The global and local challenges faced by societies and by our shared planet, require innovation in all domains. Usually associated with technology, it is often forgotten that social innovation is also continuously taking place and that it can have an even more lasting impact. Definitions of this concept vary but, generally speaking social innovation is described as a dynamic that, in response to current clearly defined social needs, offers more appropriate and more sustainable solutions Social innovations taken up by an institution, an organization or a community offer measurable benefits for the collective, rather than simply for certain individuals. The impact of social innovation is transformative and systemic. By its inherent creativity, social innovation represents a break from what is1.
As the need for innovation increases and the expectation that higher education must contribute to it, the theme is of growing interest to all stakeholders in society including universities. Higher education associations are well placed as actors of social innovation and to stimulate discussions about social innovation. The GMA is thus an opportunity for exploring ideas, strategies and success stories about higher education’s involvement in social innovation.
Learning from one another better support institutional initiatives and to facilitate advances in this area will soon become important for all associations. We invite you, as leaders and representatives of organizations of higher education, to join us in learning more about the role that universities can play in regards to social innovation for the benefit of society locally and internationally.
Each GMA organized by IAU is designed to offer participants a global networking platform to learn about the work of other associations as well as an opportunity to learn more about the local higher education context. We hope that you will use this opportunity to learn more about higher education and research in Montreal, in Quebec and in Canada more generally.
We hope that GMA 6 will be of interest to you and that the Meeting will be a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
Executive Director, International Universities Bureau
Secretary-General, International Association of Universities
1This definition is taken from the Réseau Québecois en innovation sociale, see: http://ptc.uquebec.ca/rqis/node/115