Universities are in the middle of many debates about the relevance of higher education. There is pressure to innovate and think entrepreneurially about how to have maximum impact and adapt to the many changes in the higher education environment. The constantly changing dynamics of work and everyday life environment demands a change of paradigm from our institutions. Increasingly, students and stakeholders are demanding education that is practical; that will prepare them to succeed despite uncertain career paths and will allow them to align their values with their academic and career choices.
Building a campus-wide culture of social innovation, tech innovation, civic innovation aided with the right mix of classroom, experiential, and self-directed learning; and the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching real time challenges we face holds the key to this future we seek.
The university space is really important in the timeline of the millennial lives because they’re forming their identity, building relationships, making decisions around their career path, and making academic decisions that will have implications on their future life choices. For the greater good of all the players involved, exposing as many people to the new opportunities, new identities, and new values during this stage is an opportunity for real impact on the future generation of our society.
The universities should have a culture of change, adaptability, and resilience as part of its evolving life cycle and create a new breed of changemakers’ and achievers. Universities framework should be designed to match the reality of the way problems operates in the world.
There should be a shift from a discipline-based approach to multi-disciplinary that focuses on different kinds of real-world issues. Although this against traditional academic style, because traditional academia often incentivizes specialization, but quantifiable and real-time innovations across the world are structured across multi-disciplinary teams. It’s not just elite institutions in Europe and America that can do it. Creating tools, frameworks, and models that work for a wide range of the peculiarities and structure of our environment should be at the of our people and institutions. If you don’t tackle teaching and research, then you’re not fundamentally changing the culture.
The time is ripe and there is a historical opportunity to launch sustainable changes that are also happening in lots of other sectors—finance, business, engineering and media. Universities should leverage on these opportunities and fill the gaps in this process across sectors.