Mason Joins International Magna Charta to Promote Global Education

Posted: August 6, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Mason will join more than 400 other universities from 80 countries around the world this fall and will become the second university in Virginia to sign the Magna Charta.

The document commits participants to academic freedom, ethics and fostering a movement of students and faculties around the world to facilitate global education.

Traditionally a European organization, the Magna Charta has broadened its scope to include universities from all over the world, most recently in the United States.

This year’s ceremony in Bologna, Italy, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original signing of the Magna Charta. On September 18, 1988, the Magna Charta Universitatum was signed by 388 rectors and heads of universities from all over Europe and beyond. It was timed to coincide with the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna, whose history boasts great thinkers in science and the humanities.

Some of the key elements of the Magna Charta include the standardization of degrees and credits so that they are universally equivalent; a commitment to lifelong learning strategies and the use of new technologies; and the involvement of universities and other institutions to promote higher education.

“By becoming a signatory and a member of the Magna Charta, Mason will be able to further develop connections in Europe that will benefit both our students and faculty,” says Mason Provost Peter Stearns, who will attend the signing ceremony in September.

“Signing the Magna Charta will allow Mason to join a community of universities in both the United States and abroad who share the same academic values and purpose.”

By 2000, the number of signatories had grown significantly, and the European Association of Universities and the University of Bologna jointly created the Observatory of the Magna Charta. Every year at the anniversary of the signing, the observatory organizes a meeting on related issues such as media and academic freedom and invites new signatories.

To become a signatory of the Magna Charta, a university must have recommendations from three institutions that have already signed the document.

For more information about the Magna Charta, visit the web site.

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