Living the EAIE values: a coming of age

Living the EAIE values: a coming of age Geneva 2018

The EAIE has always been driven by an implicit set of values. As we celebrate 30 years of the EAIE this year in Geneva, outgoing President Markus Laitinen reflects on the role of these guiding values as our organisation continues to grow and mature, and the importance of articulating them clearly to ourselves and our community.

This year’s Annual Conference in Geneva is the EAIE’s thirtieth. Regardless of your point of view, I think it is fair to say that we have reached adulthood. With us humans, adulthood is often coupled with the notion of responsibility. The wild teenage years are – or at least should be – a thing of the past, replaced by maturity and direction. During this process, an individual often looks back and takes stock of previous experiences and assesses what all is needed for one’s chosen future.

In many respects, this is also what we have done at the EAIE during my time as President. Among other things, we noticed relatively recently that, even though we have made plans for our future, there was something very important missing. Or maybe not so much missing, but rather just not clearly expressed. I am talking about values. The EAIE has not had a well-articulated value statement. Not until now.

According to my etymological dictionary, the origin of the word value goes back to the early 14th century. The Latin word valere means to be strong, to be well, to be of value or worth. However, only a hundred years ago these concrete definitions of value also took on a meaning of social principle. By combining all these meanings, it is obvious how a mature organisation like the EAIE would need to define its values in going forward. Our mission, vision and overall strategy would be firmly planted in the air if they were not rooted in an expressed set of values.

We have identified four EAIE values, through an extensive and consultative process. It required taking a good hard look at who we are and what we stand for. Through the process, it became obvious that the values we chose had in fact been with us throughout these first 30 years. It was just a matter of making the implicit explicit. The EAIE values now are:

Collaborative

  • We foster a culture of openness by listening and learning from one another.
  • We value working together to achieve clear and shared goals.
  • We create opportunities for cooperation to build and maintain a community based on mutual respect.

Inspiring

  • We encourage open and informative forums that broaden people’s minds and help them to learn and develop.
  • We facilitate the sharing of expertise through an exchange of stimulating ideas.
  • We work to spark innovation in the higher education community and make a positive difference wherever and whenever we can.

Inclusive

  • We accept and celebrate diversity in our community, and we will not tolerate discrimination.
  • We are communicative and flexible and want everyone to feel that their views are heard and respected.
  • We work to remove barriers in our field so that we are accessible and open.

Excellence

  • We believe that the EAIE should encourage and empower people to better themselves both personally and professionally.
  • We set ourselves ambitious goals and are committed to transforming the field of international higher education.
  • We offer excellent content and resources that combine the best of our creative expertise and industry knowledge.

These four values are not going to be some kind of window dressing or lofty ideals. No, they are going to be an essential part of the EAIE fabric and something we purposefully embed in all our activities and actions. Whether you are an EAIE member or a stakeholder, we ask you to share our values and make them real for the benefit of responsible European international higher education. Let’s use the conference in Geneva to discuss with our colleagues and peers the best ways of doing this together and living up to these values.

Markus Laitinen
University of Helsinki, FinlandMarkus Laitinen of the University of Helsinki, Finland is the President of the EAIE.