Silvio Scanagatta
Barbara Segatto

Executive Committee
Ursula Apitzsch, Jean-Louis Derouet, Luisa Ribolzi, Alison Taysum, Carlos Alberto Torres, Catherine Yan Wang

International Scientific Board

Management Staff
Managing editor
Anna Dal Ben


For Italian Law
Iscrizione n.2165 - 13.02.2009 - Registro Stampa Tribunale di Padova

Direttore Responsabile: Giulia Golo

Universities in partnership for local development. A case study

TitleUniversities in partnership for local development. A case study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLabarile M
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date PublishedJune 2009
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
Keywordshuman capital, local government, public-private partnerships, social capital, University

In literature, the contribution of teaching and research to society usually assumes economic-oriented tones in its application, by developing the concept of university as a stakeholder in economy and industry. Yet, a broader awareness of the idea of regional and local development, in relation to universities, is growing, escaping the boundaries of economic growth to target social, cultural and environmental objectives. This essay contends that this engagement in local development aiming at the formation of human and social capital, as key factors of development, could be mutually beneficial to the academic function of knowledge production, and to the community involved. This local engagement is considered here as a type of service provided by the university; in this sense, it is a function of the higher education institutions in society, in the same ways as teaching and research are. These functions constitute the immediate applications of the social role of the university, which I identify as a dynamic dimension determined by the economic, cultural and social developments affecting the expectations of society towards the university. I contend that the university should develop an awareness of the social context in which it is embedded on several grounds: because social knowledge is local, as the intensity and the pervasiveness of social and scientific change have made both highly sensitive, and therefore susceptible, to local environments. I am proposing one specific way in which the university can re-interpret its engagement into the local context. What matters to this essay is to analyze the implementation of human and social factors useful to local development. Some cases, taken from the US context, are taken as an application laboratory for my considerations.