What the future of engagement may look like

John Seely Brown, Ann Pendleton-Jullian, and Richard Adler outline future challenges that land grant universities face in the near future in the latest Change magazine. 

They predict that universities will operate more like continuing education organizations (my phrasing, not theirs), with a shift in emphasis to community engagement--using North Carolina State as a model. Coincidentally, I just read where NC State will start an Early College High School in 2011.

From Engagement to Ecotone: Land-Grant Universities in the 21st Century
While the Internet continues to evolve at astonishing speed, educational institutions change more slowly. If achieving success in the 21st century requires a fundamentally different type of preparation, then the question of how well higher education is preparing students for this new world becomes increasingly urgent.

Will existing universities embrace new forms of learning and interdisciplinary inquiry that respond to the needs of 21st-century students? And what might a blending of traditional and new forms of learning look like?

Universities are likely to remain important as places where people who share an interest in learning gather and where students interact with a wide range of scholars and with other students in explorations that generate new knowledge. They will also remain places where students can be certified for their mastery of specific bodies of knowledge. Yet they will begin to support new modes of learning as well—a both/and scenario where codified knowledge is preserved and transmitted and new knowledge is built through problem-based, interdisciplinary modes of scholarship. What happens on campus outside of the classroom will become increasingly important over time, while what goes on inside the lecture hall will be transformed or become increasingly irrelevant.


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