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Transformative leadership: An overview
What is the role of the university in the digital age?
President Michael D Higgins
In an age of intellectual crisis at least equal to that of the late 19th century, it is in our universities that we can begin to enact the transformative thinking required to reconnect us with deeper issues of what it means to be human and create a more inclusive society.
The Partnership
How higher education can be a force for social change
Brendan O'Malley
University World News has launched this six-month series on “Transformative Leadership” in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. It is designed to promote debate about higher education’s contribution to positive change in the world and how higher education can be transformed itself.
Features: Overview of transformative leadership
An education change maker from the age of 14
Brendan O'Malley
Joseph Munyambanza was one of only four children in his refugee camp primary school to make it to secondary school. He made it his mission from the age of 14 – supported by leadership training and scholarships – to transform education opportunity and quality in his camp.
Where higher education is a tool for tackling poverty
Paul Rigg
Sindy Patricia Ramos Pocón had to drop out of school to help her family survive. Now she is studying at university and leading a project to help poor families change their lives with support from university staff and peer discussions on leadership.
Grooming leaders to change a continent
Stephen Coan
“We aim to develop the future Nelson Mandela, the next Wangari Maathai, and the African Bill Gates.” There’s nothing shy about the aims of the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is preparing students not just for university but for playing a leading role on the continent.
Join the Debate
Have your say
The aim of this series on Transformative Leadership is to promote debate on how higher education can contribute to positive change in the world, whether it means tackling social inequity, disempowerment, poverty or grand challenges such as climate change. We are inviting readers of University World News to contribute commentary articles and comment on existing articles to help develop a high-quality debate.
What is transformative leadership?
Chris Roche
Transformative leadership is not about individual hero figures, but about broad-based social movements for greater equity and social justice. To promote this, universities also need to transform and open up to different approaches about leadership and social change.
Developing social justice leaders
Rajika Bhandari
Fellowship programmes that focus on increasing access to higher education for social activists in the developing world can nurture transformative leaders who go on to be at the forefront of social justice issues in their communities.
The promise of transformative leadership
Carolyn Muriel Shields
Education is often promoted as the path to social equality but too often it only increases inequality. To make a positive impact, education requires transformative leadership, curriculum change and a redistribution of power.
University leaders as ‘meaning makers’
Heather Nel
In an age of innovation and change, universities need transformative leadership, which is characterised by moral courage and activism. In Africa this means seizing the opportunities offered by protests like #FeesMustFall to drive change.
Philanthropy for social leadership
Lisa M Dietlin
What is the attraction of today’s scholarship programmes focused on social leadership and social enterprise and why are increasing numbers of philanthropists putting their money behind them?
Leadership in turbulent times
Julie Cafley
Universities need a new generation of transformative leaders to handle the increasingly complex, competitive world of higher education, but many are hampered by a conservatism in governance structures.
The challenge of building a research university
Marcelo Knobel and Renato HL Pedrosa
Creating universities that can compete with the world’s best has required both transformative thinking and transformative leadership in Brazil. For the University of Campinas, or Encamp, a state-funded comprehensive university, founded 50 years ago, which has distinguished itself in all academic areas in Brazil and internationally, success came under the inspirational leadership of Zeferino Vaz. Changes in institutional governance and higher education infrastructure are needed to have a greater global impact.
Transformational leadership in action
Roger Chao Jr
Transformational leadership in higher education is not just about individual leaders, but about institutions and organisations who work together for the common good.
Transformative Leadership: Webinar
Universities can nurture leaders of social change
Paul Rigg and Brendan O’Malley
Can universities be crucibles of transformative leadership developing students to be capable of making an impact on society? As part of its Transformative Leadership series published in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, University World News joined DrEducation to answer this question in an international webinar held on 8 February.

Transformative leadership: Innovation
Gurib-Fakim's vision for African science and innovation
Brendan O'Malley
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first elected woman President of Mauritius, Africa’s third most developed country, is a former biodiversity scientist and champion of higher education and research on the continent. She talks to University World News about her vision for transforming the continent.
Features: Innovation
A young innovator dedicated to helping Africa rise
Mary Beth Marklein
The first day he came into class you could tell undergraduate Ngoni Mugwisi was planning to do some big things, his engineering professor says.
Eco-innovation: the promise and the practice
Paulo Savaget and Cleonir Tumelero
There has been a huge amount of work done in developing eco-innovation in Brazil in the past decade, not least by universities, with the country becoming a transformative leader in the region, but its recent political and economic turmoil could put some of this work at risk.
Universities, innovation and the quest for sustainability
Sharon Dell
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted last year by the United Nations have placed particular obligations on higher education. At the same time, the concept of innovation continues to dominate the agendas of higher education institutions around the world. How can universities harness innovation in pursuit of sustainability?
Can aid bring innovation to higher education systems?
Brendan O'Malley
The United Kingdom is funding innovative international partnerships at up to £5 million (US$6.2 million) each to encourage exploration, including with private partners, of new ways of widening access to and quality of higher education provision in the hope of seeing the best models scaled up by higher education systems.
Commentary: Innovation
Time to build a pipeline of innovation for Africa
Thierry Zomahoun and Barry Green
African countries must make universities engines of development. To achieve this, universities should be at the centre of sustained ecosystems of innovation and able to produce scientists who can turn ideas into businesses.
Universities must contribute to fighting inequality
Arif Naveed
Unless universities rethink their role and engage in public policy-making and social innovation, they will be part of the problem rather than fulfilling their potential to lead social transformation. It means playing a bigger role in society above their traditional one of teaching and awarding degrees.
Universities taking a seat at the innovation table
Todd Davey, Victoria Galan-Muros and Arno Meerman
Higher education has a central role to play in driving business innovation and economic success, but to overcome challenges facing university-business cooperation and make the most of that role requires strong leadership.
Building an innovation culture via the Bologna Process
Joseph M Piro
The Bologna Process has led to innovative practice in teaching and learning and academic mobility. Can it continue to prosper, open new pathways and provide leadership – promoting the university as academic innovator, incubator and inclusive institution – at a time of huge technological and political disruption across Europe?

Transformative leadership: Innovation
The crucial role of arts and humanities in societal change
Paul Benneworth, Magnus Gulbrandsen, Ellen Hazelkorn and Andrew Gibson
Arts and humanities research has a profound capacity to transform society and shows how innovation is not just the preserve of science and business, but can occur in everyday life.

Transformative leadership: Internationalisation
Working across borders to tackle Africa's problems
Brendan O'Malley

Arthur Muneza (left) with his mentor, Bob Montgomery
Arthur Muneza's family fled the fighting in Rwanda when he was five. With an international scholarship, he has been able to turn his experience as a refugee, collaborating with peers from other cultures, to his advantage by working with researchers from the United States and across Africa to save the continent's giraffes from the threat of skin disease. "In Africa we have rapid decline of wildlife numbers, we have poaching going on, we are losing wildlife. But everyone wants to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer," he says. "I will be an advocate for giraffe conservation," he says.

Commentaries: Internationalisation
Transforming higher education through regionalisation
Joshua Mok Ka-ho
Political changes in developed countries could spur regionalisation in Asia and transform mobility patterns and China may gradually become the centre of a regional drive to deepen cooperation in higher education.
Could HE rankings be socially transformative?
Ellen Hazelkorn
Brexit has shown the dangers of a globalisation that only works for the elite. Rankings of elite institutions show how harmful this can be, but ranking higher education systems instead could be truly transformative.
GIX: the next step in China’s HE internationalisation
Shuangmiao Han and Zhou Zhong
The Global Innovation Exchange or GIX, China’s first offshore campus in the United States – a joint venture between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University – is a ground-breaking development in its internationalisation policy and its endeavours to establish education excellence hubs.
The transformative benefits of internationalisation
Bruno Morche
Internationalisation is still in the early stages in Latin American institutions, despite foreign education companies having an increasing presence there, particularly in the field of distance learning. A wider debate is needed to encourage initiatives to prepare graduates and academics for working in an internationalised world.
International-isation: A driver of change
James Otieno Jowi
Internationalisation is bringing new dynamics to student life but can also drive institutional transformation and help develop a new generation of African leaders, but it needs strong leadership and commitment from the top.
Challenges of internationalising higher education
Yulia Grinkevich and Maria Shabanova
Internationalisation has become a major driver of change in Russia’s universities and leads their pursuit of global recognition. But challenges remain as to how Russia benefits from what international faculty and students have to offer.
Features: Internationalisation
Partnership to transform agricultural education
Munyaradzi Makoni
A ground-breaking partnership between the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture and The MasterCard Foundation is aiming to strengthen efforts to revamp the agriculture curriculum across Africa and transform agriculture into a vibrant sector linked to African universities that can produce high-performing graduates and high-quality research.
Unlocking the power of equal partnerships
Sharon Dell
The internationalisation of higher education is a key driver of innovation and is seen as indispensable for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals spearheaded by the United Nations. However, forging successful, equal and sustainable partnerships to realise these goals in the context of historical injustices and global structural inequality calls for a careful approach.

Blog: Internationalisation
Could Asia lead on university social responsibility?
Robert M Hollister
A recent international summit in Beijing highlights the growing role of Asian universities in social responsibility initiatives – that educate students to be transformative leaders and mobilise universities to address societal challenges – alongside innovative new approaches.
Tranformative leadership: ethical values
Universities’ role in providing ethical leadership
Mervyn Frost
There have been various attempts to narrow the scope of what universities stand for, but first and foremost universities have a commitment to seeking truth, providing ethical leadership and upholding academic freedom.

World Blog: Ethical Leadership
Teaching business ethics
Margaret Andrews
After the global crash there was some soul-searching about business ethics and many courses started up. But do any of them work?
Q&A: Ethical leadership
How will your graduates contribute to society?
Brendan O'Malley
Jamil Salmi has provided policy advice to governments and university leaders in more than 90 countries. University World News invited him to discuss how higher education institutions and systems can provide and promote ethical leadership that is transformative.
Feature: Ethical Leadership
A mission made in Africa
Brendan O'Malley
Blooming Soyinka not only became the first person in her family to study in college, she earned two degrees in North America. Now she is determined to help Africa’s artisans transform their lives by showing the world that continent has beautiful skills and products to offer.
Leading the fight against academic corruption
Judith Eaton
International bodies have issued advice on how to combat one of the key ethical issues in higher education: corruption. Since it was issued, higher education institutions have been sharing best practice in an effort to provide the transformational leadership required in this area.

Commentary: Ethical Leadership
A more ethical leadership based on more equality
Dennis Tourish
Investing ultimate power in strong leaders leads to ethical failures. True transformation will only happen when there is a more equal exchange, where leaders are subject to criticism and where everyone has an input into making decisions that affect them.
Ethical internationalisation for all is not impossible
Hans de Wit
Internationalisation of higher education has the power to lead social transformation through preparing students to deal with pressing global issues, but it should not be restricted to a small elite.
Ethics and the developmental university
Eric Fredua-Kwarteng
Developmental universities are a model for developing countries and they should have a distinct, ethical way of doing research, where the power in the relationship between researcher and research participant is evenly distributed.
The importance of moral leadership at universities
Stephen Heyneman
Universities must stand up for ethical behaviour because they are the teachers of future leaders. To do so they must have courageous leaders who understand the importance of ethics in a world where they can be held to account in a way that is unprecedented.
Ten principles to guide ethical internationalisation
Neal King
Ethics should be at the heart of universities’ mission and yet there is no global body overseeing ethical behaviour. In its absence, the United Nations Academic Impact provides a way for universities around the world to commit to high standards.
Solving the problems of medical brain drain
Gillian Brock
Carefully crafted programmes of compulsory service and taxation can reasonably balance the interests, freedoms and opportunities of all who are affected by brain drain, offsetting the losses of those who are left behind in an ethical way.
The long battle against academic corruption
Rui Yang
There have been numerous attempts to tackle corruption in Chinese higher education, but the problems are deep rooted and require fundamental changes to the academic incentive system.

Transformative Leadership: Gender empowerment debate
Are universities doing enough to foster women leaders?
Rebecca C Conklin
A debate, organised by University World News within a larger conference organised by the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, examined how universities can encourage women leaders through personal development and institutional assistance.

Transformative Leadership for gender empowerment
Women's leadership from the bottom up
Jennifer Murtazashvili and Aarya Nijat
Women leaders in Afghanistan appear imposed from above, often to placate foreign donors. To truly transform Afghan society, they need to develop more links with grassroots movements and to engage with men in their families and in their communities.
Feature: gender empowerment
There are so many leaders around us that we don’t see
Mary Beth Marklein
United States journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana about a young woman who built a business under the Taliban and Ashley's War, the story of 20 women recruited to carry out missions for the US Army in Afghanistan, talks to University World News about women and leadership and the impact of higher education.
Investing in the future of African women farmers
Sharon Dell
At the age of 12, Malawi’s Mphangera Kamanga realised that there was a need for labour-saving technologies and improved policies to help smallholders – women in particular – to improve their yields. At 24, her potential contribution to change is being recognised at the highest levels.
Signs of progress for women amid entrenched inequality
Brendan O'Malley
Gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society, the United Nations says, but the international consensus on the need to achieve gender equality is stronger than ever – and universities have their own part to play.
Who needs mentoring so more women lead universities?
Melody Viczko
Women seeking leadership ought to challenge the ways in which they are positioned by universities. Let’s flip the mentorship concept on its head, asking who needs to be mentored in order for change to happen? Let’s ask what kinds of universities we want to lead and invest our labour towards creating institutions that inspire great leadership.

Commentary: gender empowerment
Redefining the significance of ‘international’
Zuleika Arashiro
Globally there has been an increase in the movement of academic women from the South to teach and research in universities in the North. But women from the South need to be more than a superficial reflection of a university’s diversity. They need to address historical inequities in the global education system.
Women leaders face glass cliff
Jennifer Piscopo
What can universities learn from women’s transformative leadership in politics and business? One lesson is that women tend to win top posts at times of crisis and that can shorten their time in office.
Supporting women in higher education leadership
Kate White
A lot of attention has focused on getting women into leadership roles in higher education, but little has been paid to what actually works. A new project aims to address that gap.
Decolonising feminism in Africa
Nompumelelo Motlafi
Feminist studies have been dominated by white feminists. It is time for black academics and students to transform the debate and for different forms of feminism to be part of the decolonisation movement.
Gender gaps in higher education across Central Asia
Emma Sabzalieva
The gender gap in higher education participation is uneven across Central Asia, but it is not simply down to investment. Many other factors may play a role.

Transformative leadership for social equity
HE brings hope in world’s biggest refugee camp
Brendan O'Malley

Dadaab camp houses 340,000 refugees
For years lack of teachers fuelled despair over education in Dadaab, a camp complex for 340,000 mostly Somalian refugees. An innovative higher education project involving Kenyan and international universities has brought radical improvements to teaching quality and opened up a pathway to study for a university degree in the camp. But following a drastic government decision to close the camp it faces the challenge of how to enable refugees to continue to study for those programmes while they are being sent 'back' to a country racked by conflict that many of them have never seen before.
Commentary: Social equity
Reinventing the curriculum for today’s students
Suellen Shay
Pathways to increase access to universities offer a limited vision for equity. To achieve social change, leaders need to look beyond widening access towards greater equity within the university, ensuring that the curriculum reflects the diversity and needs of the growing number of non-traditional students.
Scholactivism – A growing movement of scholar-activists
Rebecca Farnum
An increasing number of academics and students are keen to ensure their work has a social impact, questioning the purpose of knowledge and using it to create transformative change.
State intervention is not enough to achieve equity
Bin Wu and W John Morgan
Higher education reform should not be limited simply to the redistribution of higher education resources by region and by social group, but should embrace a rethinking of universities’ role in transformative social change.
Roma, hate speech and the political failure of Europe
William New
While there are notable examples of universities leading innovative programmes, current efforts to reform education to tackle the challenges facing Roma in Europe will be severely compromised unless much more is done to confront the re-emergence of violent prejudice against them.
Personalisation is key to minimising student dropout
Gad Yair and Nofar Gueta
What causes at-risk students to drop out or fail to thrive at university? Research shows that positive academic experiences are crucial and suggests ways that these can be improved to transform the educational trajectory and increase equity.
Widening participation requires new ways of learning
Marybeth Gasman
College participation throughout the world is widening and the make-up of those attending college is more diverse, which has an impact on many aspects of college life and operations. Minority-Serving Institutions could provide the transformative leadership necessary to make universities more diverse.
Features: Social equity
A new way of learning to challenge poverty
Brendan O'Malley
Geeta Dharmarajan has dedicated her life to challenging poverty in the slums of Delhi through using the power of story and student-centred learning to transform educational achievement and questions whether Indian universities are preparing young people to think, ask questions and take action to change society for the better.
A survivor making black lives matter in the curriculum
Brendan O'Malley
Aya Waller-Bey suffers from survivor guilt. She knows she is one of the lucky few from a mostly-black community of blue collar workers to make it to not just one but two elite universities and she is using the opportunity to tackle the injustice, inequality of opportunity, by pressing for diversity on the curriculum – and the study of hip hop.
World Blog
Teaching leadership for change in the business school
Margaret Andrews
There’s a huge focus on leadership in business schools, including transformative leadership, but with very few tangible results. A focus on visionary leaders may be too simplistic, though, and more innovative approaches are being trialled.

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