University as a global actor in the international system of the 21st Century

  • Francisco Del Canto Viterale Fresno Pacific University, United States; Johns Hopkins University, United States; University of Salamanca, Spain
Keywords: international studies and higher education, international scientific relations, internationalization of higher education, cooperation and competition in higher education, higher education in an interdependent world


Since its foundation, the university has always been a relevant actor within the international system as the main producer and transmitter of scientific knowledge. Considered as a global actor and historically interrelated with multiple agents at the national and international level, the university must now face new and powerful challenges within the international context. Since the last decades of the 20th Century, the world has entered a vertiginous path of transformation, driven by multiple and profound global processes that have generated significant changes in all the parameters of the international system and have prompted the creation of a new international system. The research problem that arises in this work focuses on studying whether this new international stage will mean an opportunity for the university as an international actor to assume new roles on a global scale or if, on the contrary, whether threats and pressures will erode its global position. The main objective of the present investigation is to analyze the role of the university within the changing world order of the 21st Century and for this purpose it is proposed to know the main changes that operate in the current international system, to decipher how these new global trends affect the university and, understand how the university is reacting to these systemic changes. To achieve these objectives, an extensive literature review has been carried out within the fields of International Studies, Education Sciences, and other Social Sciences. Finally, it is expected to obtain as a result some concrete answers about the context, the impact and the reactions of the university to the modified international system to contribute to a much broader, complex and necessary debate regarding the future of the university as a global actor in the new international system of the 21st Century.

Received: 27 September 2018
Accepted: 12 November 2018
Published online: 29 November 2018


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Francisco Del Canto Viterale, Fresno Pacific University, United States; Johns Hopkins University, United States; University of Salamanca, Spain

Holds a PhD in International and Intercultural Studies from the University of Deusto, Spain (2014). He is currently Project Coordinator at Fresno Pacific University (US); Visiting Professor in the Global and International Studies, MA Program at University of Salamanca (Spain); Director of Global and International Studies: Science, Tech and Innovation, MA Program at University of Salamanca (Spain); and Visiting Researcher in the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (US). He has carried out postdoctoral research at the Systems Institute, School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His core areas of knowledge are Global and International Studies, with a specialization in the intersection between Science, Technology, Innovation, and Higher Education and International Studies. His research focuses on the use of interdisciplinary and systems approaches to analyze complex data, especially on issues connected to science, tech, innovation and higher education and its impact in the international system. Finally, he also has a broad expertise and experience in Latin American Studies, International Migration, Diversity and Intercultural Studies, Political Science, International Political Economy, Foreign Policy, and Advanced Social Research Methods. Mail: /


Altbach, Philip. “Perspectiva comparada para la educación superior en el Siglo XXI.” Revista Pensamiento Universitario. Año 6. Nro. 8 (1999): 3-12.

_____. “Globalization and the University: Realities in an unequal world.” In International Handbook of Higher Education, James Forest and Philip Altbach. Chapter 8. Volume 18. Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.

Altbach, Philip, and Jane Knight. “The Internationalization of Higher Education: Motivation and Realities.” Journal of Studies in International Education 11 (2007): 290-304.

Altbach, Philip, Liz Reisberg, and Laura Rumbley. “Tracking a global academic revolution.” Change March/April (2010): 30-39.

Arimoto, Akira. “Globalisation and Higher Education Reforms: The Japanese Case.” In Higher Education in a Globalising World. Higher Education Dynamics, edited by Jürgen Enders and Oliver Fulton, 127-140. Springer, Dordrecht, 2002:

Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000.

Beneitone, Pablo, et al., (eds). Reflection on and Outlook for Higher Education in Latin America. Bilbao: University of Deusto and University of Groningen, 2007.

Breton, Gilles, and Michael Lambert. Universities and Globalization: private linkage, public trust. Paris: UNESCO, 2003.

Brunner, Jose. “Globalización de la Educación Superior: Critica de su figura ideological.” RIES, Revista Iberoamericana de Educación Superior (2010): 75-83.

Castells, Manuel. Communication power. NY: Oxford University Press, 2009. Dallanegra Pedraza, Luis. Tendencias del Orden Mundial: Régimen Internacional. Buenos Aires: Ediciones de la Universidad, 2001.

_____. Reformulación del Orden Mundial: El Fin de una “Macro-Etapa”. Buenos Aires: Ediciones de la Universidad, 2003.

de Sousa Santos, Boaventura. La Universidad en el Siglo XXI. Para una reforma democrática y emancipadora de la universidad. Buenos Aires: Laboratorio de Políticas Públicas y Miño y Davila, 2005.

Enders, Jürgen, and Oliver Fulton. Higher Education in a Globalising World: International Trends and Mutual Observation A Festschrift in Honour of Ulrich Teichler. Dordrecht: Springer Science & Business Media, 2002.

Enders, Jürgen. “Higher education, internationalization, and the nation-state: Recent developments and challenges to governance theory.” Higher education, Volume 47, Issue 3 (2004): 361-382.

Etzkowitz, Henry, and Loet Leydesdorff. Universities and the global knowledge economy: a triple helix of university-industry-government relations. London: Pinter, 1997.

Foucault, Michel, The archeology of knowledge. New York: Pantheon Books, 1972. Forest, James, and Philip Altbach. In International Handbook of Higher Education. Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.

Horowitz, Michael, and William White-Burke. “Academia can be an important vanguard of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. World Economic Forum, 19 Jan 2018.

Innerarity, Daniel. La democracia del conocimiento. Por una sociedad inteligente. Barcelona: Paidós, 2011.

Keohane, Robert, and Joseph Nye. Power and interdependence. London: Longman, 2001.

Kerr, Clark. The Uses of the University. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. King, Roger. “The contemporary University.” In The University in the Global Age, edited by Roger King, 1-27. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004.

Knight, Jane. “Internationalization: Concepts, Complexities and Challenges.” in International Handbook of Higher Education, edited by James Forest and Philip Altbach, 207-227. Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.

Moreno Alegre, Juan Manuel, and Alfredo Albáizar Fernández. “La tercera misión de la Universidad.” In Libro Blanco de la Universidad Digital 2010, edited by Jaime Laviña Orueta and Laura Mengual Pavón, 83-101. Madrid: Ariel and Fundación Telefónica, 2008.

OECD y EUROSTAT. Manual de Oslo. Guía para la recogida e interpretación de datos sobre innovación. España: Grupo Tragsa, 2006.

OECD. Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators in a Changing World. Responding to policy needs. Paris: OECD, 2007.

_____. Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD, 2016.

_____.OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2017: The digital transformation. Paris: OECD, 2017.

Quintanilla, Miguel. “La investigación en la sociedad del conocimiento.” Revista CTS Vol. 3, núm. 8, abril (2007): 183-194.

Rolfe, Gary “Cardinal John Henry Newman and ‘the ideal state and purpose of a university’: nurse education, research and practice development for the twenty- first century”, Nursing Inquiry. 19 (2012): 98-106.

Schwab, Klaus. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. New York: Crown Business, 2016.

Sebastián, Jesús. Cooperación e internacionalización de las universidades. Buenos Aires: Biblos, 2004.

Shah, Dhawal. “By The Numbers: MOOCS in 2017.” Class central, January 2018.

Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. The 2017 Academic Ranking Of World Universities. 2017.

Slaughter, Sheila, and Larry Leslie. Academic capitalism: Politics, policies, and the entrepreneurial university. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

Sporn, Barbara. “Governance and Administration: Organizational and structural trends.” In International Handbook of Higher Education, edited by James Forest and Philip Altbach, 141-157. Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.

Todt, Oliver. “La gobernanza tecnocientífica en la Unión Europea.” Revista CTS Vol. 3, Nº 7, septiembre (2006): 21-42.

UNESCO. Towards Knowledge Societies. UNESCO World Report. Paris: UNESCO, 2005.

_____. 2009 World Conference of Higher Education: the new dynamics of higher education and research transformation and development. (Final Report. 5 to 8 July 2009. Paris: UNESCO, 2009).

_____. UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030. Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 2015.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. Geopolitics and Geoculture: Essays on the Changing World- System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

_____. (coord.) Open the Social Sciences: Report of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. WORLD SCIENCE FORUM. Declaration of the 8th World Science Forum On Science For Peace. Text adopted on 10 November 2017, Dead Sea, Jordan.

WORLD SCIENCE FORUM. Declaration of the 8th World Science Forum On Science For Peace. Text adopted on 10 November 2017, Dead Sea, Jordan.

How to Cite
Del Canto Viterale, Francisco. 2018. “University As a Global Actor in the International System of the 21st Century”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 6 (1), 169-98.