The debate about the future of the university has traditionally been formulated as a dichotomous battle between “idealists”, or self-protecting groups of “research freedom”-loving academics, who fight under the flag of Humboldtian values, and the “market”-oriented policy makers and reform minded people, who fight with entrepreneurial spirit and Schumpeterian wit. And of course there are the disruptive innovators, say a Khan Academy, or MOOCs, who provide new ideas, new prospects, but also raise the overall entropy of the already chaotic educational system. In all, never has been the educational scene more turbulent and more diverse. It is both an exciting and a daunting time for those who are at the helm of universities.
I have always loved the middle ground though. I am an ally of innovation and market-oriented participation, yet I think it worth some time to slow down from time to time and explore some of the underlying values and cultural underpinnings.
I have been reading this interesting book on the concept of self-cultivation or ‘bildung’ which can be said to be one of the foundational concepts of the German University, and thus the modern research university (though there are some contending voices whether the ‘role model’ assumption holds).
Anybody who have to deal with Silicon Valley should listen to this “history lesson” about the Valley. Even though most of my readers probably know a lot about the Valley from personal experience or books like AnnaLee Saxenian‘s 1994 classic, listening to this lecture will put the history in a different perspective. It gives a very good insight into how one of the most powerful clusters in the U.S. was formed through Steve Blank’s entertaining style.
This report from HBS professor Michael Porter, Jan Rivkin & Rosabeth Moss Kanter calls business to rise up against short-term business practices and help bolster the competitiveness of the United States. They base their arguments on a survey that they have conducted among high-profile HBS alumni. They conclude that there are fundamental problems with competitiveness (defined as competitive strength in the global market place & capability of supporting high and rising wages, and living standards) in the U.S. and action must be taken.
I found it slightly amusing that most of the suggestions are similar to the oft criticized Japanese model that focuses on high standards of living for employees and other stakeholders, and long-term employee training. Well, it is high time the U.S. realized that short-term policies and financial tricks won’t help in creating a sustainable future.
Here is the link to the report lecture.