Since being awarded the Prime Minister’s Teacher of the Year Award, I have been lucky enough to be invited to deliver keynotes both in Australia and internationally. While the focus is generally on ‘what makes a good teacher’, invariably, the changing environment that universities confront is raised. The university of today faces new challenges beyond funding: these questions of relevance and accusations of being disconnected from broader society (you know, the one about universities being ‘ivory towers’).
As such, I have been researching the future of universities.
In the contemporary economic environment, universities both as sector and individually, are increasingly called to quantify their value. This is aggravated by the emergence of Massive Online Open Courses that promise all the content without either the costs incurred or the time commitment. In a paper I published recently, I argue that the future of universities is embedded in building community engagement principles. The paper was published by DEMESCI and is available for download (for free) here.
My argument is that in the contemporary world, universities and both the teaching and research scholars that reside within them can no longer afford to be isolated. Rather, what we must do is build closer, wider and deeper links with the various communities we serve. As such, any restructuring of the sector should be used to reassess the role universities play within broader society as well as promoting an active and engaged citizenry.
The paper has been well received but I would love any thoughts you have on how universities could be better links with the communities we serve.