“I will be very frank on one issue; those universities whose only task is research are that way because incoming resources support that activity. A university becomes immobilized when it loses contact with the external environment on which it must be focused," said Jorge Pinto, the winner of the 2012 National History Prize, during his recent visit to Universidad Viña del Mar (UVM).
The historian’s criticism of the role currently served by traditional universities took place as part of the inauguration of the new academic year for the History and Social Science degree programs, which took place at UVM’s Rodelillo Campus.
"I tend to think that there are some intentions to freeze themselves in time, especially in public universities, because they may be more concerned in conducting research than in resolving environmental or transnational conflicts or dealing with the Mapuche issue in Araucanía," Pinto said.
This is an unthinkable situation for the noted scholar. "I am convinced that universities have a social responsibility. First, they need to develop good professionals and secondly, they need to develop research that contributes to solving the country’s problems," he argued.
The Paradoxes of the twentieth century: "We are dissatisfied"
As for the inauguration itself, Jorge Pinto discussed lessons and questions left by the last century at the conference "The Paradoxes of the twentieth century". He referred to the great advances of the period, but noted that these advances have not been enough to achieve global, like economic progress, peace and social tranquility.
"Although we have improved our living conditions, we feel dissatisfied. The major challenges for the future are to adapt the state, which we still very much need, to the demands of civil society," said Pinto.
After the lecture, Julio Castro, UVM’s Rector, welcomed the visit of the noted scholar "Jorge always raises controversial topics that are very relevant. He is a great teacher, gave those in attendance today an excellent conference and it is an honor for the university to have leaders share their experiences with us. We hope you can someday join UVM as a member of our faculty," said the Rector.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.