I am very impressed with the Stanford 2025 project, which imagines what undergraduate learning and living at Stanford will be in the future. It’s a boundary-pushing project, envisioning major changes such as students going after “missions” instead of “majors.”
This is the type of thinking we really need in order to create the university of the future. The bottom line is that college education is expensive, and for the most part, runs very similar to how it’s been ran for many decades. Obtaining jobs and preparing for a competitive 21st century workplace is difficult. Maybe there need to be bigger changes in the University besides just what majors/masters/doctorates are offered, and whether courses are offered online or not. These changes could increase the alignment between the University and how the world has changed so rapidly.
The biggest challenge is that education, as a whole, is a structure that is very slow to change. This includes K12. There are pros and cons to this. You don’t want educational institutions to go with every trend the wind blows towards them. At the same time, since change in education is so slow, it’s entirely possible for society (which moves rather quickly, especially in this digital age) to outpace education where it stands and give credibility – even a shred of it – to the claim that education has lost relevance. That’s why there’s been an uptick of claims from people that it is no longer worth it to go to college. I completely disagree with this claim, but I do acknowledge that the University needs to change some things so that education as a whole can maintain a close enough pace to society for students to thrive (not just merely exist) post-graduation.
So with the advent of some incredible technological advances, we are at one of those potentially pivotal moments where we can really dream big. When I say big, I don’t mean bigger buildings. I don’t mean bigger programs. I mean innovation and creativity that propels students and positions Universities to orchestrate the tempo of society – rather than being outpaced by it. The future of the University can be brighter than we can ever imagine – but only if dare to push some of the boundaries that have become perhaps too commonplace and routine in higher education.