Archive for September, 2015

The Pope’s appearance before Congress and Obama’s presentation to the United Nations were both historic moments. They were impressive performances and could be seen as interesting topic agendas for international higher education initiatives.

The Pope addressed most of the pressing issues the planet faces these days, from reversing global warming to breaking the cycle of poverty. He made his concerns about the consequences of capitalist greed very clear, argued that everyone deserves equal opportunities, and reminded the entire world about the universal appeal of the “golden rule.”

But two other points also stood out to me: If you listened carefully he also called for an end to polarization, pointing out how destructive it is for the common good. In addition, he pointed out that US universities have an enormous research capacity to help solve the world’s most serious problems.

On a different but compatible note, Obama’s speech to the United Nations was a clearly articulated case for preferring diplomacy over military action whenever possible. Following the speech, however, a pundit quipped that this was vintage “professor” Obama, missing a perfect opportunity to talk more practically.

My reaction, however, was that all practical solutions begin with “big ideas” and diplomacy and public diplomacy are the perfect “big ideas.” And furthermore, a global higher education industry will help lay the groundwork for effective diplomacy, while itself functioning as a powerful form of public diplomacy.

In the final analysis, both the Pope and the President were challenging the US and the rest of the world to put greed aside and educate everyone everyday for the common good. A global higher education industry will certainly help bring that about.   (more…)

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Should higher education be included in national political debates?  Should it have its own place on the agenda?  Or should it be considered as a vital factor in effectively addressing other topics?

For example, in a debate about the economy, job opportunities, and social problem-solving should questions about the role of higher education be asked? Many politicians have already declared higher education a failure, so maybe its role in these matters should be debated and discussed more widely.

If some of the more extreme charges go unanswered the implications are frightening. For example:

(1)  Universities are inefficient and ineffective. In political debates where the nation’s effectiveness as a world leader is being questioned, this charge against higher education’s effectiveness has far-reaching implications? Since our universities produce the nation’s leaders, it is a charge that must be strongly and visibly answered.

(2) The high cost of higher education is limiting access to good jobs. The truth is that financial aid offsets an average of 40% or more of the cost, and the diversity of size and type means that sticker prices vary significantly. There is a college somewhere in the US to fit most everyone’s needs and pocketbook. This misunderstanding needs to be answered.

(3) Universities should focus more on practical fields of study. The implication here is that the liberal and fine arts are less worthy. The facts are that many companies prefer liberal arts graduates, and that the job a graduate gets today might not exist tomorrow! These facts need to be heard.

Even if the debates themselves end up with politicians continuing to attack the academy, 24/7 cable, social media, and other major news outlets could balance the situation by having top academic leaders immediately and visibly respond. Otherwise, these charges might go unanswered. Then we all will be the losers.


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A story in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education reported that some educators have come to believe that it is not necessary to use a passport to have a global experience.

The argument in the story is that with the multicultural diversity of the US population it’s not necessary to cross national borders to give students intercultural skills. Today some 40% of Americans are members of racial or ethnic minority groups, and one in 10 is foreign-born.

This thesis, however, misses two important realties:

(1) While it is true that producing globally minded students on campus is both possible and essential, nothing takes the place of also actually being there.

I co-taught a class on international communication for many years with a scholar from India. And yes, I have many friends from India right here in North Texas. I have attended Indian cultural events in Fort Worth. And I have seen many films about India. But none of this comes even close to what I experienced when I found myself wandering the streets of Mumbai and talking with Indians in India! Experiencing a foreign culture on campus is important. But actually traveling and spending time there is essential if you want to become a global citizen and leader.

(2) The second reality has to do with the implications of higher education becoming a global industry. Student migratory patterns are changing. More undergraduates will be choosing to attend foreign universities. Faculty career opportunities are becoming more global. Fund raising is becoming much more international.

These forces will change the competitive situation of most institutions, no matter how small or how local. These questions will have to be addressed: When will our best undergraduate student prospects also be considering an Asia-based education in English at the same cost? When will our donors also begin choosing international visibility and naming opportunities related to their growing global interests?  Will our students have access to the same quality foreign experiences as our competitor’s students?

The bottom line is this:  Preparing for a successful global future will require both on-campus cross-cultural experiences and genuine living-learning abroad opportunities.

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I recently participated in a conversation about how cities might be able to help solve international problems. At the conclusion I came away thinking that this was a real possibility. So I made a list of the reasons why:

(1) City administrations tend to be more nonpartisan than national governments.

(2) Many city mayors, managers and their executives have serious problems right down the street and therefore tend to be very pragmatic.

(4) Many of those problems are related to poverty and unemployment in nearby neighborhoods

(5) Young immigrants, sometimes second and third generation, tend to live in those neighborhoods and can become disillusioned about their future. Extreme groups offering a future coupled with adventure can sound very appealing and persuasive.

Great universities and great cities tend to have mutual interests in community problem solving, greater visibility, and internationalization. If terrorism is to be successfully addressed it must be addressed in city neighborhoods, and universities certainly can help.

Cities must addresses the root causes. But universities can provide the essential research, project interventions, job training, and leadership education.

In the final analysis, city government officials and university leaders in the great cities of the world just might be more effective in curbing terrorism than most national governments, which tend to get paralyzed by ideology and unbridled egos.

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The Transition Academy: Seizing Opportunity in the Age of Disruption, is now available at… http://www.case.org/books

CASE Books is an educational publisher serving everyone involved in advancing educational institutions around the world. Today this includes professional advancement officers as well as institutional executives, faculty, staff and the many others who are concerned about the inevitable disruptions of a coming sea change in the industry.

Significant changes in government support, uses of technology, and the globalization of everything, are already underway. Government priorities are different in different countries. Some are focusing on building prestige, some on leading science and technology development, and others on generating and filling jobs. And a good number of these are likely to include overall funding cuts.

Digital technology is producing change inside institutions and out. New on-line programs are addressing unmet needs, and the best ones are solving many of their early quality problems. Technology is also changing how we teach and deliver educational experiences in traditional residential institutions. And simultaneously with all this the economic impact of globalization is changing most everything.

For the academy this goes well beyond study abroad. Undergraduate students will consider enrolling in institutions in many different places in the world. For example, US students will be able to study in English, experience other cultures, and pay no more than at home. The best faculty will have teaching opportunities in other parts of the world, and are likely to move several times during a career. Foundations and businesses that have focused their philanthropic interests locally will have new and enticing opportunities for international visibility and impact.

The question is not whether all this will happen, but how soon will it affect you? Therefore, planning for global change and preparing constituents for a new day should already be underway.




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