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The Olbian Declaration of Universities PDF Print Write e-mail

The Olbian Declaration of  Universities
“Academic Freedom, University Autonomy and Education and Science for Sustainable Development”

Preamble

We, presidents, chancellors, rectors and vice-rectors of universities in Ukraine and around the world, scientific institutions and non-profit organizations that functions in the sphere of higher education assembled at Yalta, Ukraine, on 11-14 June 2009 and signed this Charter. We were motivated by our recognition of the need for a strategy of sustainable development for our institutions. People of all nations recognize the role of universities as key drivers of sustainable development. We believe our institutions cannot achieve their full potential, nor make their greatest contributions, unless each institution’s autonomy is acknowledged and academic freedom is protected at all.

The Preamble of the Magna Charta Universitatum  proclaims that, “…the future of mankind depends largely on cultural, scientific and technical development; and that this is build up in centres of culture,  knowledge and research by true universities;
…the universities mast give future generation education and training that will teach them, and throw them others, to respect the great harmonies on their natural environment and of life itself.”

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guarantees that “the arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint” and that “academic freedom shall be respected” (Article 13).

Many international documents were considered during preparation of this Declaration. Among them:

- The Lima Declaration on Academic Freedom and Autonomy of Institutions of Higher Education.

- The Glasgow Declaration “Strong Universities for a Strong Europe.”

- The Talloires Declaration “10 Point Action Plan.”

- The Strategy of the United Nations Economic Commission for EuropeEducation for Sustainable Development.”

The Constitution of Ukraine, Article 54 of which guarantees Ukrainian citizens “the freedom of literary, artistic, scientific and technical creative work.”

Determined to do everything necessary to reach the goals of sustainable development, we adopt and solemnly proclaim this Olbian Declaration of Universities “Academic Freedoms, University Autonomy and Education and Science for Sustainable Development.”

Article 1. The Main Concepts

1.1       Academic freedom is the individual and organizational freedom to pursue academic activity within a framework of ethical rules established by the academic community and international practice, without overt external pressure.

1.2       The academic community is the collective of all persons generating, exchanging, or receiving knowledge in an academic setting (faculty, scholars, staff, administration, undergraduate, and post graduate students).

1.3  University autonomy is the independence of an institution from the state, or any other organization.  University autonomy is the foundation of academic freedom because it allows each university to make independent decisions concerning internal organization and management, allocation of financial resources and profit generation, administration and the establishment of its own strategy in the spheres of education, research, teaching, and related activities.

1.4       Sustainable development of high education system is the process that allows a university to change as its operating environment changes, without damaging the institution’s security. It reduces an increasing quality of academic community and future generations’ activity.

 

Article 2. Academic freedom

2.1       Human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. The world community must regard human rights globally, with justice and equality, and equal attention to all members of the world community. Governments must respect freedoms and provide all people, and members of the academic community in particular, with freedom of thought, conscience and religion, opinion and expression, association and peaceful assembly, the right to personal freedom and security, and freedom of movement.

2.2       The right to pursue personal growth is a fundamental human right, universal and inalienable. It is the foundation of sustainable development for every nation.

2.3       The Ukrainian system of university education aims to achieve the worldwide aim of the sustainable development of civilization. Systems that support and govern higher education must provide appropriate conditions to support this function. Among those conditions: the availability of lifelong education in any subject or sphere for all persons, appropriate in form and delivered at convenient times, at the individual learner’s pace.

2.4       All members of the academic community possess a fundamental right to perform their functions without intervention or compulsion on the part of the state or any other institution. They also possess the right to freely disseminate research results and publish research findings without censure, except the cases that are foreseen at Ukrainian legislation and international regulatory acts.

2.5       No standards, prescribed curricula or programs shall limit the faculty’s freedom to define the structure and content of education, nor the form and methods of teaching. Any generation cannot resign next generation to their laws.

2.6       Free access to scientific information is fundamental to modern  research.  Free access underlies the development of science, education and society and is key to Ukraine’s integration into the international academic community.  For these reasons, and excepting cases that are covered by explicit legislation, academic freedom includes open access to information via electronic archives (universities’ institutional repositories), electronic journals, or other means.  Free access includes the ability of members of the academic community to communicate freely with colleagues worldwide.

2.7       Governments must exert all possible efforts to provide at affordable levels higher education for all secondary school graduates and others who can prove their capability for study at that level.

2.8       All members of the wider community must have full and equal access to the academic community. Every person has a fundamental right to join the academic community as a student, teacher/professor/faculty member, scientist/scholar or administrator on the basis of his/her personal abilities and interests. There can be no discrimination for admission to this community other than intellectual merit.

2.9       Every member of the academic community has the right to freely associate with any other member. This includes the right to create or join an unlimited number of independent research centers or trade unions for protection of their interests.

2.10     Scholars must not and can not be forced to  list persons as coauthors of their publications unless those persons made considerable contributions to the research, nor will scholars allow their own names to be used inappropriately.

2.11     Intellectual freedom explicitly does not allow, authorize or justify any falsification of research results, plagiarism or other unsanctioned use of someone else’s intellectual property.

2.12     A scholars’ right of error is recognized. Each scholar bears intellectual and moral responsibility for wrong or problematic results of his research. However, scholars will not be persecuted or punished unless their errors cause damage to the community.

2.13     Scholars bear moral responsibility for the results of their research and discoveries. No scientist shall voluntarily design or create any weapon or technology that is dangerous to humanity. The academic community recognizes such action as a crime.

Article 3. University autonomy.

3.1       University autonomy is the foundation for academic freedom.  The state shall not abrogate the autonomy of the universities, except for cases covered by explicit legislation. The state must protect the autonomy of universities from any encroachment.  Because of the responsibilities it imposes on institutions, academic freedom requires a high level of university autonomy.

3.2       Universities will exercise their autonomy through democratic means, including the active involvement, without discrimination, of all members of the academic community. Every member of an academic community has a right to participate in academic or administrative affairs. Administrative bodies of the university must be freely elected and represent different sectors of the academic community.

3.3       The freedom and ability to react to changes in society are fundamental characteristics of an autonomous university. Autonomous universities are characterized by the organizational flexibility and administrative capacity to determine their roles and positions in the world.

3.4       University autonomy includes each university’s right to:

  • Determine the structure and content of education as well as the forms and methods of teaching and research.

 

  • Integrate teaching and research to apply new scientific discoveries, and to evolve as required by the changing needs of students and society at large.
  • Develop and administer independent admission policies which conform to international practice and agreements with businesses, institutions, organizations and citizens. Such policies must be supported by sufficient state and other funding.

 

  • Establish and award academic degrees and ranks.
  • Autonomous decisions making in the intrinsic administration and financing.

 

  • Determine its own mission and unique research strategy.
  • Obtain other rights related to self-management, in addition to any delegated by government education bodies and in accordance with the university’s status.

 

3.5       The right of each university to independently define its own structure, as well as the content, forms and methods of its teaching must be legislatively guaranteed.   Educational standards shall be treated as recommendations only and will be used only to determine the levels of qualification (degrees). This will  ensure institutions the freedom to make  progressive changes in the content of the education. Educational standards should not define the content of instruction.

3.6       The internal organization and administration of an autonomous university, including distribution of financial resources from non-state sources, hiring of personnel, determination of learning conditions and programs, and direction of research and creative projects are shielded from external interference by government bodies or other institutions. Notwithstanding, autonomy does not relieve a university of the obligation to follow statutes ratified by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (or an analogous body in another country).

3.7       University autonomy includes control over major resources, such as property and premises, and over personnel policy. It brings an accompanying obligation for openness and full accountability and responsibility to both the academic community and to society as a whole.

3.8       Universities call upon the government to acknowledge the principles of university autonomy that support their various missions, including:

  • Academic autonomy (educational curricula, programs and research);
  • Financial autonomy (allocation of budget/funds as a total sum);
  • Organizational autonomy (organizational structure of universities);
  • Personnel policy autonomy (hiring, discharge,  salary and promotion).

 

Article 4. Education and Science for sustainable development.

4.1       University must define its own mission, taking into account current and future needs of the community and accepting higher education’s responsibility as an enabler of sustainable development. Universities play key roles in economic and social development, improvement of living standards, and in building national and international harmony and peace based on human rights, democracy, tolerance and respect.

4.2       Universities must apply high academic standards to shape their structures and define the priorities in their programs.

4.3       University education and science programs will support sustainable development through:

  • The implementation of sustainable development ideas in all academic courses and programs.

 

  • Structuring all courses on a subject basis.

4.4       By focusing not only on environmental damage but also on its consequences, education and science for sustainable development will provide students with an understanding of the reasons for global, regional, national and local ecological problems.

4.5       The principles of sustainable development will be incorporated in curricula and special courses at all levels of higher education, especially in initial teacher training.

4.6       Education administration bodies adequately supported by NGOs must promote all forms of adult education to ensure lifelong learning in the spheres of environment and development.

4.7       Interdisciplinary research is key to education for sustainable development of society, so connections will be strengthened among natural, economic, political and social sciences.

4.8       Universities should incorporate environmental and development concepts into curricula, especially focusing on demographics and analysis of the causes of local environmental and development problems. The most current and accurate scientific data and other information will always be used.

4.9       To educate for sustainable development, universities must shift their focus from mere provision of knowledge to active problem solving. Education should preserve its traditional focus on teaching discrete subjects, but at the same time must provide opportunities for multi-dimensional interdisciplinary analysis of real life situations.

4.10     Education for sustainable development must apply a wide range of teaching methods, especially active methods that are process and solution-oriented, adapted to the needs of students, the academic community and society at large.

4.11     All teaching methods must be used to ensure that students understand the ways that public and private decisions affect sustainable development.

4.12   It is important that all students will gain the knowledge about sustainable development and will be informed about the decisions that are contrary to sustainable development.

4.13     All instruction must encourage and nurture critical, systemic, and creative thinking. Instructional programs must address both local and global issues.

4.14     It is necessary to support scholars and scientists not only in their professional development within their particular areas of knowledge but also in their ability to identify ecological, economical, political, law, moral, educational and other aspects, take them into account and use them in their research projects and recommendations.

4.15     Research that advances the cause of sustainable development should be encouraged. Research results must be exchanged locally, regionally and globally; and applied to all levels of education and all forms of practical work.

4.16     The material resources of the educational sphere should be improved and university management must reorient toward sustainable development.

4.17     Because of their unique ability to analyze social, cultural, economic and political situations from an interdisciplinary perspective, universities have a special responsibility to warn society about negative trends. In particular, universities must monitor the progress of sustainable development, the growth of intercultural dialogue and the formation of world culture.

4.18     Every educational establishment and the community that surrounds it, including students, faculty, scholars, administration, staff, and students’ parents, should adhere to principles of sustainable development.

On behalf of the university leaders from Ukraine and the world, scientific institutions and non-profit organizations that functions in sphere of high education whose signatures are below, undertake a solemn obligation to exert all efforts to insure that every nation and all supranational organizations develop policies that conform to this Declaration. This Declaration is the unanimous, and freely proclaimed, will of the undersigned.

Yalta, Ukraine, 12 June 2009