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

  • Francisco Del Canto Viterale Fresno Pacific University; Johns Hopkins University; University of Salamanca
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

Author Biography

Francisco Del Canto Viterale, Fresno Pacific University; Johns Hopkins University; University of Salamanca
FRANCISCO DEL CANTO VITERALE ( / 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.


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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.