Mapping higher education’s literacies of the future

Mapping higher education’s literacies of the future Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta, and Mandla Makhanya The world continues to become increasingly defined by more complexity and uncertainty. The planet continues to become more complex as a result of advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, mixed reality, biotechnology, and genetic engineering, among other innovations.  At the same time, the planet continues to become more uncertain as a result of climate change, biodiversity and oceanic degradation, the refugee crisis, extremism, and nuclear proliferation, among other global problems. The growing anxiety associated with the increased and paradoxical juxtaposition of innovation and global problems places greater urgency on educational institutions to become actively involved in addressing these concerns and issues. Although the main purpose of education is to produce learning, higher education also serves several other equally important aims, including the civic or political, economic, social, environmental and personal purposes of education. This contemporary reality raises serious humanitarian concerns [...]

HE institutions must learn to adapt to innovate

HE institutions must learn to adapt to innovate Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta, and Mandla Makhanya Humanity stands on the precipice of an emerging revolution. This new revolution is brought about, in part, by the integration of biological, technological and social systems. For instance, we have seen remarkable advances in cybernetics, artificial intelligence, mixed reality, quantum computing, neural interfaces and genetic engineering, among others. Development of human intelligence This new revolution is just one in a long line of revolutions in human history over the past 10,000 years. The first major revolution was the Agricultural Revolution (also known as the Neolithic Revolution), which occurred in the Middle East around 10,000 BCE. This transition marked a turning away from nomadic hunting and gathering to stationary agricultural societies. During this period, humans established non-nomadic societies centred on crop and animal farming. Humans domesticated both plants (for example, wheat, lentils and flax) and animals [...]

New higher education literacies for a sustainable future

New higher education literacies for a sustainable future Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya As the world becomes more interconnected and interdependent, nations face increasing pressure to improve their political, economic, social, technological and environmental infrastructures in order to compete in an increasingly globalised world.  Within this context, perhaps the most fundamental and important component of any nation in the 21st century is its educational system. As societies become more complex – economically, socially, technologically and otherwise – so must their educational systems. To this end, nations have responded by creating diverse educational systems that now consist of many different types of educational institutions, including trade schools, technical colleges, community colleges, liberal arts colleges and research universities, among others.  In a complex society, a one-size-fits-all approach is unable to address all the varied needs of society. Therefore, a highly diverse educational system is seen by many as one of the keys to the promotion of economic [...]

Creating inclusive curricula in higher education

Creating inclusive curricula in higher education Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University, USA, The HETL Association, USA and The University of South Africa The ongoing development, growth and stability of modern economic and democratic systems require that people engage in continual education and training throughout the course of their lives – that is, lifelong and lifewide learning. As a result of this contemporary reality, higher education systems around the world, including both formal and non-formal types of learning, have experienced unprecedented change in the past few decades in the areas of democratisation, internationalisation and treating lifelong learning as a human right. These changes have been driven by underlying factors such as social movements, economic forces, legal reforms, technological innovation and changing student needs and demographics. The changes have brought with them a renewed focus on inclusion and equity as paramount issues in the shifting paradigm of higher education. The increased attention to equity and inclusion have, in turn, led [...]

Higher education’s key role in sustainable development

Higher education’s key role in sustainable development Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University, New York City, USA, American University of Kurdistan, and University of South Africa The United Nations defines sustainable development as “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  As such, sustainable development not only deals with environmental issues, but economic, social and cultural issues as well. Given the increased demands placed on societies and the environment due to, among other factors, increased human migration, increased urbanisation and industrialisation as well as the ongoing depletion of non-renewable resources, it is clear that global action is needed to create a more sustainable future. Given its primary role as knowledge producer, higher education can serve as a powerful means to help create a more sustainable future. Thus, the concept of ‘education for sustainable development’ has become, in recent [...]

Towards a more equal, inclusive higher education

Towards a more equal, inclusive higher education Patrick Blessinger, Jaimie Hoffman and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University (NYC), University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, University of South Africa Widening participation initiatives aim to improve access to higher education opportunities for all people. Driven by increased demand for education from all segments of society as well as legal reforms and human rights declarations, these initiatives focus on improving access for students from historically marginalised backgrounds (for example, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities and students from low-income backgrounds) to address inequities and inequalities in higher education. Thus, the heart of widening participation policies revolves around making access to education more fair and equal. To that end, equity and inclusion initiatives aim to address and redress longstanding practices of exclusion and privilege (typically along race, ethnicity, sex, gender and socio-economic class lines) which have tended to stratify society.  Each society or institution of higher education is unique [...]

Towards higher education in service of humanity

Towards higher education in service of humanity Patrick Blessinger and Mandla Makhanya St. John's University (NYC), USA and University of South Africa The growing importance of education at all levels and the inclusion of more stakeholders in the educational enterprise has sparked debate about the fundamental nature and purpose of higher education (that is, what type of good is education?). Traditionally, viewed from an economic perspective, higher education has been treated largely as a public good. Since the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, this public good view has been reinforced by the view that education is also a human right. These factors, together with the increased demand for higher education to meet the economic development needs of the post-World War II economies, resulted in a huge increase in government support for higher education. This factor further solidified the notion of higher education as a public good. However, [...]

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