The United Nations Academic Impact

Ban Ki-moon

Academic institutions have an invaluable role to play in strengthening the work of the United Nations. From research laboratories to seminar rooms, from lecture halls to informal gatherings in cafeterias, the search for innovative solutions to global challenges often begins on campus. Moreover, the principles that characterize scholarly enterprise-equal opportunity, mutual understanding and open inquiry-are also at the heart of the UN’s global mission of peace, development, and human rights. The academic world and the world Organization are already good, close partners, but there is great scope to go further still. That potential, as well as ten universal principles encompassing human rights, dialogue, sustainability and much else, underpin a new initiative: the United Nations Academic Impact.

Much has been written and said about corporate social responsibility. Today we are also seeing the emergence of a stronger culture of “intellectual social responsibility.” That is the spirit the UN Academic Impact seeks to embrace and encourage. We hope to help educate young people about the complex, transnational issues of our time, and cultivate a global mindset and a keener sense of global citizenship. We would like to empower students and faculty to take their learning beyond the classroom-and to their friends, families, and communities. We want to bring the ideas and proposals generated by institutions of higher learning into the global arena, including the UN system. We want, in short, the UN Academic Impact to promote a “movement of minds” to engender change.

The United Nations continues to open its doors to new partners, and we are especially excited about how the scholarship and engagement of the academic community can benefit our work for human well-being. I welcome the more than 400 institutions in more than 80 countries that have joined the initiative and have shown such enthusiasm about supporting United Nations objectives. I look forward to the contributions this scholarly partnership can make in our efforts to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world for all.