The Higher Education Tomorrow academic blog is devoted to the systematic research-based analysis of global higher education and its future

Humans are Extraordinary, but Need a Change in Mindset

Humans are Extraordinary, but Need a Change in Mindset Patrick Blessinger, Abhilasha Singh, Fareeda Khodabocus, and Amudha Poobalan Humans are an extraordinary species in many ways. From their modest beginnings along the East African Rift many millennia ago, humans have evolved to develop some remarkable traits – physical, mental, and social. As a result, not only have humans become the most dominant species on the planet, but they have also become by far its most intelligent, imaginative, adaptable, and resourceful species. This outcome is the result of some very fortuitous events that have happened to humans along their evolutionary pathway. Over the course of their evolution, humans have hit the evolutionary super jackpot several times (perhaps a one hundred trillion to one outcome) when they developed the following advantageous traits, among others: bipedalism, opposable thumbs, the hyoid bone, and, consequently, big and powerful brains. For example, bipedalism is likely the foremost characteristic that put hominids on [...]

Knowledge for the Global Common Good

Knowledge for the Global Common Good Patrick Blessinger and Enakshi Sengupta Since the dawn of the Industrial and Democratic Revolutions (circa 1800 CE), the impact of human activity on the planet has accelerated and the human species has become, for better and worse, the dominant influence affecting life on planet Earth. In some ways (for example, major decreases in illiteracy, poverty, child mortality), the world has become significantly better off since the dawn of these revolutions. In other ways (for example, major increases in mass carbon emissions and deforestation), the world has become worse off over the course of these revolutions. The development of the sustainable development goals is aimed at addressing these deficiencies. Within this historical context, and within the more modern context of globalization and the development of the sustainable development goals, the world has also emerged into a global knowledge society where access to much of the [...]

The Shift Towards Hyper-learning

The Shift Towards Hyper-learning Patrick Blessinger Two of the most important questions facing higher education today are: how should higher education institutions respond to the dramatic changes occurring in the world today? And, since the consumption and production of knowledge (that is, the learning process) is at the center of all educational institutions, how can higher education adapt and transform their teaching and learning practices and processes to best address these changes? To help answer these questions, it may be helpful to first understand the factors driving the emerging trends in the world today (politically, economically, socially, technologically, and environmentally) and how these trends are impacting higher education. The real-time instantaneity of ubiquitous digital interactions (for example, the integration of social media with wireless, GPS, and mobile technologies), as well as the development of new inventions, discoveries, and innovations, has fundamentally altered our reality – cognitively, psychologically, socially, and physically. [...]

Shaping Learning Futures with Lifelong Learning

Shaping Learning Futures with Lifelong Learning Patrick Blessinger and Filipe de Castro Soeiro For the past 12 millennia, humanity has undergone a series of revolutions that have allowed it to dominate every aspect of the planet. Beginning with the First Agricultural Revolution (Neolithic period) around 10,000 BCE, humans began transitioning from hunter-gathers to permanent farming settlements based on animal domestication and plant cultivation for human food production and consumption. This revolution was likely triggered by climate change (end of the Paleolithic Ice Age) as well an increase in local populations (urbanization). This transition represents a radical change in humans’ survival strategies where humans began to adapt the environment to fits their needs rather than simply adapting to the whims of the environment as all other species do. For instance, through domestication, humans created artificial environments where selected livestock and plants were separated from their wild counterparts in order to serve [...]

Rethinking Higher Education for the Future 

Rethinking Higher Education for the Future  Patrick Blessinger Over the past several decades, the democratization of knowledge has spread rapidly around the world as a result of political, economic, social, technological, and environmental forces. These forces have helped global higher education experience unprecedented growth in student enrollment and institutional diversification. Global higher education enrollment is expected to reach nearly 600 million by 2040. In the future, certain countries in Africa and Asia are expected to experience the largest increases in participation rates. What was once an elite higher education system just a few generations ago has quickly emerged into a massified higher education system. Today, in some parts of the world, higher education has even reached universal access. Not only are there now many types of degree-producing formal learning options available to people but there are also many types of open education and non-formal learning options such as OpenCourseWare and Khan [...]

What universities can do to mainstream sustainable development

What universities can do to mainstream sustainable development Patrick Blessinger and Barbara Cozza Note: This article first appeared in the December 2021 issue (Vol. 26 No. 2) of IAU Horizons. By and large, human beliefs, attitudes and mindsets drive human behaviours. Thus, the future of humanity, and the planet they inhabit, will ultimately depend on humanity’s ability to adopt a sustainability mindset in order to solve the most intractable issues of our time (for example, poverty, illiteracy, species extinction, resource depletion, climate change). Within this context, higher education, as a catalyst for economic and social progress, can and should lead the world to achieve a sustainable future with the support of the UN framework Agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals. The future of humanity, and the planet they inhabit, will ultimately depend on humanity’s ability to adopt a sustainability mindset in order to solve the most intractable issues of our time. Ultimately, [...]

Making sense of pedagogy

Making sense of pedagogy Patrick Blessinger Over the past few decades, many new pedagogical strategies have been developed in the attempt to improve teaching and learning. An explosion of books, articles, and other publications have been written about these different pedagogical strategies. There has also been an ongoing debate about which approach(es) is/are most effective. After teaching for many years at both the K-12 and higher education levels and after conducting research in this field for many years, my professional experience and research findings inform me that direct, explicit instruction at the primary and secondary grade levels is very important. As a general rule of thumb, the lower the grade level, the more direct, explicit instruction is needed, for obvious reasons. In the lower grades, most students lack the requisite mental models (schemas), knowledge base, skills, experience, emotional and social maturity, etc. to learn effectively on their own. The younger [...]

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