The Talloires Network is a global association of over 280 institutions in 69 countries committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education.
In January 2010, the network began identifying universities from around the world to provide a framework for which policies on civic engagement can be made. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM or The National University of Malaysia), captured the attention of the Talloires Network, due to the institutional leadership of its Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Wira Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin in the area of industry and community engagement. In Malaysia, UKM was invited by the Talloires Network to contribute towards a chapter in the book, The Engaged University: International Perspectives on Civic Engagement (International Studies in Higher Education) written by David Watson, Robert Hollister, Susan E. Stroud and Elizabeth Babcock.
Subsequently, the University was invited by the network to participate in a unique discussion to advance civic engagement in higher education globally. The conference, at Bellagio, Italy titled “Higher Education Responding to Social Needs,” from the 23rd to the 26th of March 2010, discussed the importance and value of higher education civic engagement; and the relationship of the global Talloires Network with its regional partners around the world. UKM was represented by Prof Dr Saran Gill, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Industry and Community Partnerships
One of the outcomes of the Bellagio conference was the realization that industry-community-university engagement initiatives can benefit greatly from sharing best practices, innovative solutions and effective strategies at the regional level. Regional networks can provide a critical platform to facilitate sustainable collaboration for the social, economic and environmental development of regional communities, especially in areas of common interests and concerns.
With this realization, UKM then worked together with the Talloires Network to develop the regional partner known as the Asia-Talloires Network of Industry and Community Engaged Universities (ATNEU). As a dedicated network for the Asian region, ATNEU brings together key regional stakeholders from universities, industries, NGOs, communities, and governments to catalyze sustainable partnerships that identify and address the social, economic and environmental challenges and ultimately improve the quality of life for communities in the region.
ATNEU is strongly supported by Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education. On the 27th of October 2010, The Minister of Higher Education, YB. Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khaled Bin Nordin tabled the proposal for the setting up of ATNEU to the Malaysian Cabinet. ATNEU then was formally endorsed by the Malaysian government. MoHE believes ATNEU, with UKM as its host, will lead in creating a multiplier effect through the sharing of knowledge and experience in university-industry-community engagement across the Asian region. ATNEU can also provide the necessary impetus to develop a critical agenda that fits in with regional realities, interests and priorities towards achieving the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) for the Asian community.