Universities must be the repositories of all levels of knowledge and should be able to confront the reality of diverse systems of information when processing knowledge.
So said Indian political psychologist and social theorist, Professor Ashis Nandy, in his address, Imagining a South Asian University, during a Sawyer Seminar keynote address at UCT recently.
A leading public intellectual, Nandy was one of a group who brainstormed the concept of a South Asian University 10 years ago - where seven member-countries in Asia pool resources to create a centre of excellence in which students and researchers work together for human advancement.
Nandy said universities are increasingly becoming centres of knowledge management rather than of knowledge creation.
"Universities globally are supposed to process knowledge for societies," he said. "But that has gradually declined in the past decade, and they only process knowledge that is accessible through universities and which is becoming increasingly narrow."
Nandy gave the example of 100 public institutions in India that offer music as a subject - but not one respected musician has emerged from their programmes in the last 70 years.
"They (musicians) come from different processes (of education)."
Nandy said there were public intellectuals of all kinds outside universities who process knowledge for the sake of society.
"We had to keep that in mind, too, when imagining a South Asian University."
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