Higher education and the emerging environmental revolution

This article first appeared in University World News Higher education and the emerging environmental revolution Patrick Blessinger, Mandla Makhanya, and Mirela Panait Over the past 250 years, the world has experienced unprecedented political, economic, social, technological and environmental change. In addition to the many socio-politico revolutions that have occurred over the past 250 years, much of the progress during this time period has been the result of industrial revolutions. These industrial revolutions have transformed the planet in many ways – both positively and negatively. The First Industrial Revolution (circa 1760 CE to 1840 CE) was mainly characterised by the invention of mechanised manufacturing technologies – for example, tools, machinery and steam engines – which set the foundation for future revolutions. The Second Industrial Revolution (circa 1870 CE to 1914 CE), also known as the Technological Revolution, was mainly characterised by the diffusion of electrification, mass production, mass transportation and mass communication systems – for example, electricity, steel, petroleum, [...]

Education 4.0 and its Key Role in Sustainable Development

This article first appeared in University World News Education 4.0 and its key role in sustainable development Patrick Blessinger, Ahmad Samarji and Haydeé Ramírez Lozada Since the First Industrial Revolution (circa 1800), humanity has experienced several major waves of political, economic, social, technological, and environmental development. These major waves of development have come to be termed 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 as a way of classifying the major turning points since the First Industrial Revolution. Many people believe that the world is now experiencing a fourth wave (4.0) of development. Thus, in the fourth wave, Education 4.0 coincides with Globalisation 4.0, Industry 4.0, Society 4.0, Web 4.0, and Environment 4.0. This broad system of classification can serve as a useful mental model to bring clarity to the key factors driving global development. Globalisation 4.0 is characterised by hyper-connectivity and the rapid (or instantaneous) movement of goods, capital, energy, people, and information as a result of [...]

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 [...]

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 pedagogyPatrick BlessingerOver the past few decades, many new pedagogical (teaching) strategies have been developed in an attempt to improve teaching and learning. An explosion of books, articles, videos and other publications have been produced on these different pedagogical strategies. The differences (sometimes nuanced differences) between the different strategies can make it difficult to discern what strategy may be best in a given situation/context, making it difficult for people (even educators or researchers) to know which are most appropriate in a given setting. Thus, there has also been an ongoing debate about which approach(es) is/are most effective. A lot of research has been conducted to try to assess and evaluate these various pedagogical methods and strategies in order to determine good and effective instructional design principles. Although challenging, it is important that we continue to do research in all areas that impact education and continue to focus [...]

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