Trend Analysis and Commentary
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1994, 1(3), 3-4. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

With this edition we inaugurate two new sections: Trend Analysis and Commentary. Magdalena Rood, editor of AERA's Special Interest Group in Futures Research and Strategic Planning Interactive Newsletter, will write the trend analysis section. She has been conducting a Delphi project with AERA SIG members on trends and issues facing education. Beginning with this edition, she will inform us of the panel's analysis of the research, policy and practice implications of key trends and issues, and will, thereby, illustrate the usefulness of this analytical technique.

In the commentary section, as with our lead article, we will print essays on potential developments on the horizon that may affect colleges and universities. We want these essays to be thought-provoking and provocative. Our commentators may disagree. For example, in this edition, Wally Albers (like Ian Wilson in our December edition) argues for increased ties between colleges and universities and businesses, while Chris de Winter-Hebron argues that such ties may lead to conditions that threaten academic freedom. And what could be more provocative than Arnold Brown's (in whose office no computer can be found) argument to beware the technological bandwagon!

No one took up my challenge in the December edition to nominate key issues facing higher education. In each subsequent edition, we want to include an issue brief on a critical issue. Each brief will consist of a statement of the issue, its background, its location on the "life-cycle" (i.e., the cycle beginning with a faint signal giving rise to social expectations about the issue that then may get on the political agenda leading to legislative requirements and social/political control), and recommended courses of action for educational leaders.

Like our section on trend analysis, issue briefs are important components in issues management. Bill Ashley and I will conduct a seminar on issues management for North Carolina community college presidents in the UNC-CH Institute for Academic and Professional Leadership's executive management program next month. With the permission of seminar participants, I will list the issues raised by them in the April edition. We will begin our issue section with a brief on one of these issues. (Or on an issue that you nominate. The challenge remains!)

Issues management is an effective tool that you can use to anticipate potential problems or opportunities, thereby gaining more lead time to position your organization in a turbulent environment. If you would like to know more about this tool, consider attending a preconference workshop on issues management that Bill and I will present at the July meeting of the World Future Society. If you would like to know more about other tools and techniques of anticipatory management, consider attending the global change seminar cosponsored by the UNC-CH Program in Educational Leadership and King Alfred's College, Winchester, this summer on their campus, one hour from London. Please call or write me for details.

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