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Note from the Editor: Value-Driven Mission?

VU International News and Reviews No. 104 January 15 2018

January 2018

Let’s examine the following train of thought

  1. Universities need to be mission-driven and value-driven; not just on paper, but in reality.
  2. To make it more than rhetoric, universities should explain to applicant students and staff: “these are our values, this is our mission; if you don’t agree with them and can’t comply with them, our university is not a place for you!”
  3. Missions and values are by definition subjective; people may disagree with them. People are free to hold on to their own values. Even if these are anti-social (but not illegal); even if they put individual liberty and individual economic gain above all and any kinds of societal and community values.
    We may dislike that – and I do – but we can’t deny people the right to have these detestable values.
  4. So this may well lead to a cleft between (many) universities driven by societal values and (some) universities defending the libertarian, egotistic, rat-race perception of the meaning of life.
  5. Is this what we want? Do we accept this logical conclusion of the starting point that our own university must have a more-than-rhetorical society-/community-engaged vision, mission and values?

I don’t know; I’m puzzled and I invite comments on how to resolve this paradox of engagement that leads to a decrease in societal coherence.

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