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Introduction: German-Polish Transborder Universities in a Challenging Environment
CZŁOWIEK I SPOŁECZEŃSTWO T. XXXV – Z. 1 – 2013. ss. 23-28.
The main focus of this project was to study the specific role of cross-border university collaboration at the German-Polish border within a changing and challenging environment. The challenges encountered result mainly from the requirements all European institutions of higher education face in the evolving knowledge society and from intensifying globalization processes. It is education, and higher education in particular, that is taking on a far more important role in a knowledge-driven economy and is even regarded as the most important key to productivity. In the process of fostering competitiveness in the knowledge societies of the OECD countries, it is education that is both the raw material and motor of productivity. Thus, especially the European Union has given universities (through the Lisbon agenda) a crucial role. Other challenges result from the specific location of border universities on national peripheries; these spaces often suffer economically from structural weaknesses. Border universities therefore are often confronted with high expectations from local and regional actors and assumed to play an important role for regional economic development, as they are seen as an important partner of the “triple helix” (Etzkowitz) within regional governance processes. In the debate on European integration, border areas are ascribed special meanings regarding European social and cultural cohesion, as it is in these regions that different cultures and systems meet in close proximity. European border universities are often equated with laboratories for Europeanisation.
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