Today is Giving Tuesday, an American-invented day to encourage people to support good causes.
If you think what I do is such a cause, I’d like to encourage you to support this work.
To explain: my work concerns the future of higher education. I model how post-secondary education might develop, based in part on researching the history and present of academia. To that end I conduct a continuous research campaign, scanning the horizon for signals, diving deeply into certain topics which look most likely to have a major impact, identifying and tracking trends over time, and building scenarios. The results appear in articles, books, book chapters, presentations, workshops, seminars, and all kinds of digital content, from videos and podcasts to social media and this very blog.
Along the way, I also try to share my work process. For example, as I find materials I push them out via social media, email, this blog, Substack, and other venues – partly to get feedback and improve what I do, but also to add to the overall conversation. I also report on projects under way, like books, which take several years, or redesigning classes and digital programs. That’s because I’m committed to the spirit of open source, as far as I can go before hitting limits of sustainability.
And sustainability is key. I’m an independent futurist, not backed up full time by any organization, campus, government, or company. This gives me the freedom to do the work as I see fit, which is marvelous, but with the condition that I must continually support that work (and myself, and my family). Every day involves scrambling to cover operational costs and to settle the whole thing on a stable foundation. Additionally, not being tenured means I take serious risks when researching very controversial or unattractive topics which look like they might have a huge impact on colleges and universities, such as racism or climate change. Being ahead of the curve is what a futurist is supposed to do, of course, and can be rewarding down the road when the world bears out my forecasts, but can be very challenging to keep alive in the meantime.
Giving Tuesday is largely about charities, which is excellent, but I propose something different today. If you’re interested in higher education’s future and want to support my work, I’d like to make sure you get something of value in response, in addition to contributing to this independent futures project.
For example, you could support me on Patreon. That’s a reliable way to support someone working on something you approve of. Also, I regularly host discussions there and share my research in its earliest stages.
Or if you’re concerned about AI, you could subscribe to my Substack about artificial intelligence and the future of education. It began this summer and is where my research into AI appears. It looks at a range of issues and dimensions of the topic, from practical pedagogy to macroeconomics. I rely on professional research into AI, journalism for cutting-edge events, a broad network of fine colleagues, my classroom and workshop experiments, as well as my own hands-on trials with the stuff. You can follow for free, but a paid subscription helps make this particular line of inquiry sustainable.
Alternatively, if you are thinking about higher education more broadly, you can sign up for the monthly Future Trends in Technology and Education (FTTE) report. It’s a long-running analysis of the trends reshaping higher ed, backed up throughout with evidence. And I’m just redesigning one aspect of it right now.
You can also buy one or more of my books. That’s the classic, old school form of research manifestation. I love writing books more than almost anything else in the world and am working on three (yes) such projects right now. Ordering copies of Academia Next, Universities on Fire, or The New Digital Storytelling in hardcover, paperback, ebook, or audiobook (depending on title) for yourself, your friends, colleagues, and libraries will hopefully give some insights into how higher education is changing while also helping me write more of them.
Now, if you’d like to support this future of higher education work at a larger scale, consider sponsoring the Future Trends Forum. This is, as far as I can tell, a unique program. It’s a weekly, live video discussion about higher education’s future. Each session features one or several guests with a particular angle on academia in conversation with myself and the Forum community. It’s not a boring PowerPoint recitation nor a series of canned talks. Instead, every Forum is entirely interactive, driven by participants’ interests and curiosity. We’re coming up on our eighth anniversary and would love to keep going. New sponsorships would go a long way to covering our production costs and also let us try out some new ideas.
I hope one or more of these ideas appeals to you, dear reader, because I think this work is vital. Thinking through the future of the academia matters to academics, of course, but also should matter to the rest of society, as the world badly needs what colleges and universities do. This is true even when – perhaps especially when – parts of society turn away from or against the academy.
I appreciate anything you can do to help.