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 [...]

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 [...]

Towards higher education for a better civil society

Towards higher education for a better civil society Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Craig Mahoney Higher education around the world is at a juncture. For instance, academics are now challenged to protect academic freedom, to treat lifelong learning as a human right and to reinvent the institutional vision, mission and values so they are compatible with the realities of the emerging world paradigms of globalisation, social responsibility and sustainable development.  To this end, educators must first understand what it means to be a socially responsible institution and their role in civil society. Civil society can be defined as the third sector of society. Whereas the first and second sectors of society include government (that is, the public sector) and business institutions (that is, the private sector), civil society (that is, the civic or community sector) includes all other individuals, groups and institutions (for example, citizens, families, educational, religious, non-profit and non-governmental organisations) that operate, by and large, [...]

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 [...]

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