Institutions of higher learning fulfill important functions and are, in a sense, symbols of universalism. The future of mankind may depend on the orientation and effectiveness of their work.
The forces of universalism confront many problems today. The universal, regional and technical international organizations have many uses, but are handicapped by and reflect the shortcomings of a political system based on so-called sovereign states. This system has become unrealistic in the age of radio, television, rapid air transportation, nuclear power, missiles, communication satellites and space ships, and in an age of world-wide problems such as hunger, unemployment and enormous population growth. Other circumstances impede the development of a co-operative world society. Besides political and ideological rifts, there is the North-South chasm caused by important differences and conflicts of interest between the developed and developing nations. Instead of concentrating on farsighted policies and meaningful co-operation, the developed nations have produced dangerous weapons systems and are, in addition, polluting the air, water and soil as if driven to self-destruction by an evil spirit. They may also—often with the purest motives—run the risk of simply exporting these problems to the Third World under the guise of development aid, in the mistaken belief that industrial and technological 'growth' and educational systems as we know them in Western countries constitute a panacea for the ills of developing societies.