Responses to "A Reinvented Model for Higher Education" from the 'List
by James L. Morrison

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

We now have over 700 participants on Horizon List accessible through the Internet. One use of the List is to stimulate conversations on emerging trends and potential developments that may affect education by posting draft On the Horizon articles for discussion, critique, and comment. Below are brief excerpts (somewhat paraphrased) from several List participants who commented in response to our lead article. The thoughtful and thought-provoking responses are available in their entirety in Horizon List archives.

  • From Merrill Pritchett, University of Baltimore: Heydinger replaces the heavy hand of an unresponsive bureaucracy by unbundling established higher education organizations to create "enterprise organizations." I am struck by how serious writers rely on the functioning of the marketplace to reform higher education. Could not models for reinvented higher education be drawn from environmental studies or developmental psychology? Would not a student-centered model of higher education be even more revolutionary?

    ...A successful business is one that meets present customer needs while at the same time planning to meet needs that the customer does not yet even dream of. The classic example is the VCR. Developed by an American company, it was dropped for lack of immediate markets, only to be picked up by a Japanese company that spent 20 years developing the market (i.e., getting consumers to see the need for it), and then made millions. Higher education should try to meet the present needs of students, as narrowly they are now defined, while not giving up the broader aims of education. If we regard education as a life long process, persuade our students of the truth of the idea, and practice it ourselves, we might be able educate students who can cope and be successful for the long haul as well as the first job.

    ...Maybe the most important core competency of higher education is encouraging our people to think creatively, to experiment, and to try to shape the future. We must keep in mind that writers on core competencies stress that what is an asset today must be reexamined constantly, taking into account the possible future impact of technological, demographic, and economic trends.

  • From David Ross, Houston Community College: I wish we could read an article on education without words like reinvent, paradigm, outcome, customer needs. Outcome in its most common collocation as in measurable outcome thrills legislators and chills educators. Here in the trenches comes another taxpayer subsidy of the educational testing, database management, industries.
  • From Don Mencer, Aurora University: Training for specific jobs will leave our students less prepared for the future, not more prepared. Perhaps if we did a better job of explaining why the liberal arts curriculum is valuable, the customer would be happy to pay to acquire it.
  • From Dean Pielstick, Chemeketa Community College: The SCANS reports call for exactly the kinds of competencies that one develops through a liberal education. During customer conferences, local business leaders say that they have to provide specific technical training; they expect our graduates to be able to solve problems and think critically.

If you have not yet subscribed to Horizon List, please consider doing so (instructions are in the June/July 1994 issue). The List offers an opportunity to join in a worldwide discussion/critique of emerging trends and issues published in On the Horizon. Moreover, we use these discussions as a way of identifying potential articles. Indeed, some of the articles we have published stemmed initially from the discussion on Horizon List as well as from other lists we systematically scan.

We hope to get even more information from the List in the future via our venture in establishing a global electronic environmental scanning database on the Internet. Now when you subscribe to Horizon List, part of the welcome announcement tells you the format for your posting and how to retrieve information from the database.

The usefulness of this database is dependent upon List participants—the more who contribute, the richer and, therefore, the more useful the database. We intend to mine this database for potential items for publication in On the Horizon; if we select your contribution, we will request your permission to publish it, giving, of course, due credit to you for your contribution.

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