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Nancy Cantor, Higher Education






It is no exaggeration to state that higher education always has understood its most fundamental mission is to prepare people for their civic responsibilities. Even the first academies of ancient Greece were self-consciously convened for this purpose. So, when university leaders met last June under the auspices of the Council of Europe for the International Conference on the Responsibility of Higher Education for a Democratic Culture, it was not an abrupt departure from tradition, although many of the traditions of citizenship have changed significantly since the days of the Greek polis. Rather, that meeting in Strasbourg last June was a new milepost in the millennia-long engagement of higher education with the issues of civic life. Our gathering here today also reflects how true academia remains to this central, organizing purpose.

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