finding opportunity in experience: global higher education

Hey over there,

So this is something that I was thinking about and thought that I would share it.

We are currently experiencing an amazing opportunity. We have flown at least third way around the globe, supported by others in our group, to learn from an experience of a lifetime. We have consistently shown and been shown that the world is not as large as previously thought.

I feel that perspective is the progenitor of knowledge and insight. These insights blend and interact with our own held experiences and form new ideas that can begin to shape our future paths. These ideas can be used to form the core of our positions on higher education and teaching giving others access to our newfound and combined knowledge.

This perspective is global in scale, as least in western methods restricted to the United States and European sphere, and this can begin to allow us to be adequate faculty in competing in a more global, future world.

We have heard from many, often influential individuals, about their experience and the built potential of the Swiss education system. As with almost anything in life there is a feeling, a spirit of a period, time or age. This spirit of the age is and resides along a spectrum of the existence of time. This spirit is shown in the enthusiasm of everyone that we have met and expresses the potential of these thoughts for Academe.

This concept of a continuum then can be taken to what a “good” or “bad” education method or system is. I have found that this duality crumbles under scrutiny, that new perspective and objective reality make this duality difficult to hold. On our trip I have found that methods often contain positive and negative traits. If we combine a continuum approach to finding a method or definition to a global perspective and therefore a global method, we find a curious proposition.

To blend methods of instruction, in the context of the spirit of our age, we must begin to formulate an understanding of the world around us, and our place in that world, rather than solely questioning ourselves set apart. This then can allow us to understand the phenomena of the world.

This reflection on experience, and self reflection in general, is incredibly important to our systematic exploration of the world and its intricate phenomena. For example, architecture is a start to the criteria that influence the most critical component of education: the student in society. As a future faculty of architecture I cannot conceive a future global university without questioning both the architecture and the system used in education.

This student of society is also a citizen of a global context in which it is, and will continue to be, critically important to understand dynamic and relative thought. It is one thing to understand one’s own views, but our place in the world and the new perspective from others will become our defining attributes as future faculty and scholars.

That is what the opportunity is. It is to gain a global perspective of the global university.

There are not many quantitative methods or targets that a global university can or even should be measured by. Importing international students does not make a university global. Simply having partner institutions in name only does not make a university global. Having treaties among neighboring nations does not make a university global. There are a litany of thing we often point to as metrics for a global university that are possible indicators for appearing to be global or at least trending towards a global presence. It is not numbers that will define the future global university.

The future global university will and must be defined by meaningful and lasting relationships between people.

A corporate university cannot make a meaningful relationship with a single handshake, or a clandestine meeting in a cigar smoke filled room. Although this is how some of these relationships could begin, but still need to be developed over time. This means at least more than one handshake and a few cigars ever year or so.

This forming of a relationship means learning the bad humor of your future colleagues. It means talking about issues facing global education such as the student loan bubble and immigration policies. It means understanding the cultural relevance and tendencies of those involved. It means acting to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. It means flexibility in a sea of academic choices and responsibilities.

I believe that the future global university and its future faculty will be a lean, flexible entity that will not be beholden to its constituency, but rather be accountable to its endeavors for them and their combined success, for a clearer mindset on higher education. This mindset is what makes the global university and its potential so intriguing. The spirit of our age and our culture and its phenomena will drive our academe into the future.

This mindset of a flexible and adaptive university is not something I can yet pin down. It may have come from sitting on a balcony, it may have come from walking briskly to a train, it may have come from eating food in a foreign land. I do know that the mindset for my future teaching and hopeful potential for a university will come from the experience of this trip and its phenomena and their worth in the world contexts.

Ken

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