|by James L.
[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in
On the Horizon, 1992, Summer, 1-2. It is posted here with permission
from Jossey Bass
We live in turbulent times.
During the startling developments in the former Soviet Union last year, David Brinkley
stated that "each day seems to bring the dawn of a new era." Certainly the fall
of the Berlin wall, the unification of Germany, the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, and the
breakup of the Soviet Union, have transformed our world.
On the horizon is the possibility that
the European Community may include Eastern Europe in the largest free trade zone the world
has yet seen. In response, other free trade zones are in the making (e.g., the North
American Free Trade Treaty between Canada, the United States and Mexico; Australia and New
Zealand, and several South American countries). Are these signals of another momentous
event--international free trade with concomitant dislocations of workforces and
industries? If so, what are the implications for continuing education and for the
globalization of the curriculum?
On the Horizon alerts members of
the higher education community to driving forces and potential developments in the
macroenvironment that constitute threats or opportunities to colleges and universities. We
intend to live up to our title, On the Horizon, and even to our ever-so-faint
subtitle on the masthead, Beyond the Horizon. To do so, we have asked a number of
individuals to serve as consulting and contributing editors--some prominent in higher
education, others prominent within the futures field. From time to time they will
contribute pieces on developments they see on (or perhaps beyond) the horizon that could
affect your work and future in higher education. They will also speculate on the
implications these developments have for colleges and universities. You may not always
agree with what they say, but we hope you will agree that the material stimulates your
In this preview edition we categorize our
news into social, technological, economic, environmental, and political (STEEP) sectors,
and seek to include developments in these areas at the local and global arenas. In
subsequent editions we will add four other sections. One, Issues, is an ongoing
Delphi process focusing on issues facing higher education. Each edition will relate your
views of these issues, their importance, where they are headed, and their implications for
colleges and universities. Another, Tools, is a look at both new and proven
planning tools from inside and outside the educational establishment. These tools will
include software, new data acquisition technologies, standardized instruments, and
planning techniques, such as group process and conference management innovations. Another,
Using Scanning Information, will illustrate how some colleges and universities use
scanning information in academic or institutional planning. And finally, Letters to
the Editor, a section in which you may respond directly to items and their implications in
case you disagree with our assessments or wish to add to them.
You are invited to participate in all
sections of this newsletter. In fact, the sections on Issues, Letters, and Using
Scanning Information depend upon your input. We welcome items that serve as signals of
change in any of the STEEP sectors. Please also provide a statement of the implications of
these signals for higher education. If we use your contribution, we will give you credit
for its submission. This has to be one of the easiest ways to get your name in print that
We hope that you enjoy this issue and those to come.