A New Model of University. Universities for Development
In the following pages I offer my conceptions of what a university should be. They are ideas generated by a long academic life in various countries and continents. However, I spent the longest period of time in Mexico, in Mexico City and the last twenty years in the state of Oaxaca. My academic background in the field of international relations has forced me to always keep an eye in what is happening on the world stage. This has allowed me to incorporate knowledge and experiences to the university project that I have had the enormous privilege to develop.
As is natural, not everyone will agree with my opinions regarding the idea of university; I would be disappointed if they did. However, I want to invoke three things in my support: one, these are not improvised ideas, but the fruit of a wealth of experience in the field of universities to various degrees; two, I hope to have demonstrated with the facts that these ideas work and the possibility of combining theory and practise is something that not many university theorists have been able to do; three, I have expressed my ideas with the same freedom with which I have been applying them over the decades. It is my hope that in other geographical environments where similar situations exist they will benefit from the Oaxaca experience, as this model is perfectly exportable.
It was and still is an enormous challenge in which I gradually became involved. I had the unique opportunity to conceive and carry out a university project, of public universities, in which my own ideas are applied. Against all the odds and the most difficult circumstances, political, social, economic and also geographical, it can be said that we have achieved considerable results. As in all projects of this kind there are contributions from many people from both inside and outside the universities and it is just to recognize this. In the second part, dedicated especially to the practice, I mention the most significant names, to which I would have to add many of my collaborators who have tolerated my impatience beyond that which should be reasonably expected. However, in what is referred to as the oaxacan experience, I should say in my defence that it has been twenty years of long working days and constant travelling, almost always by highway because of the difficult geography of Oaxaca which ranges from sea level to high mountainous regions. Apart from the weekends, I hardly ever stay in place for more than one night. Until now I have had the good fortune of being in excellent health which has enabled me to withstand these excesses and I should confess that I feel extremely proud of the work which has been carried out and the results obtained. Above all, I feel proud of the overall consensus which has been achieved in Oaxaca with regards to this project which is seen as belonging to all the oaxacan people.
Since this project is still a work in progress, I can’t speak in the past about everything. In what is referred to as being my ideas about university, I don’t believe that at this stage they will change fundamentally. However, in practice we are still in plain combat, achieving things which we hadn’t been able to until now, creating new challenges and innovative projects such as the NovaUniversitas. We are also creating areas of technological development with the research centres which we have established.
Today Oaxaca has, like it or not, a firm place in the Mexican scientific and technological fields and we have shown by way of everything we have achieved that we can rise above any challenge. With this willingness to provide something important for the government and people of Oaxaca, we hope that the social and economic challenges facing Oaxaca today will be in the near future a thing of the past.