Since the publication of the first Shanghai ranking in 2003, the international rankings of universities have become evermore important. This book examines the evolution of higher education systems and the role of universities in contemporary societies, which are marked by increased competition and tensions. Investigating whether the dynamism of large universities is an accurate indicator of the intellectual life of their civilizations, Universities and Civilizations systematically analyzes the evolution of universities in several main rankings, from their creation until now. This analysis shows the rise of universities in China and parts of Europe, the decline of American and Japanese universities and the scant presence of universities in Russia, India, Africa and Latin America. This book suggests an overhaul of traditional models of academic cooperation and exchange in an era of growing international tensions and a time when people and knowledge are increasingly mobile.