This past Friday I keynoted a Penn State World Campus conference. While the event was very energetic and forward-looking, my talk was ultimately quite gloomy, because I focused on offering negative visions of higher education’s future.
That was a new approach for me. Generally I prefer to offer a mix of scenarios optimistic, gloomy, and strange. This time I wanted to scare the audience, goading them into rethinking higher education and its next phase. I was hoping to get people out of the mindset that things will be all right, if we just hang on and keep going. To be fair, after the dystopian quartet I suggested a dozen ways we could act to avoid bad futures.
This seemed to succeed. Most people told me the materials were impressive, once they got over their shock. Only one person (out of hundreds) complained that it was too dark. But you can judge for yourself. First, here are the slides:
Second, I’ll blog each of those dystopias here over the next four or so days. Here are links to each post:
I’m curious what people’s responses were. Did they buy your options for getting out? It feels like there’s a lot of inertia in higher ed these days, no will to change anything. And what you’re asking requires work–lobbying, protesting, etc. It seems many faculty have their noses in books, looking for the narrower slice of research that will keep their jobs.
Few people spoke to the options I mentioned. One person, a librarian, I think, asked everyone to fight for net neutrality, which I hadn’t mentioned.
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