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Universities have been centres of education and discovery for centuries. But today they are also supposed to be engines of economic growth, beacons of equal opportunity, laboratories for new modes of learning and more. Change is being thrust upon them at an unprecedented rate. Nature looks at some of the myriad ways that universities around the world are responding, as they try to shake off old habits of thought and explore new ways of doing things.
Harvard University president Larry Summers was heavily criticized last year when he claimed that differences in innate aptitude, rather than discrimination, were behind the failure of women to advance in scientific careers. Some other academics agreed with Summers' analysis: “rubbish”, to paraphrase the views of female-to-male transgendered scientist Ben A. Barres.