Moribund Academia as a Change Leader
by Steven R. Van Hook, PhD
Academia is leading the world in a transformational
shift. We are confronted
easily-duplicated knowledge –
online and media-rich in a way no classroom can
replicate, no fee meter ticking.
speak of flipping education, where students learn
online and attend onground classrooms simply to
Instructors and institutions are struggling to stay
relevant. There’s no lecture I can give where
students can’t access up-to-the-instant information on
their devices that totally eclipse my materials.
All we have to offer are jealously-guarded and
Yes, and our contextual wisdom. But just how wise are
The transformational issues faced by students go
beyond our engrained wisdoms. Indeed, our grounded
perspectives may be a hindrance to their development.
How well we handle the indicator socioeconomic changes
in academia impacts our global future in so many ways.
As the guardians of human knowledge, how capably will
our best minds adapt, and incubate the developing
minds in their charge who will in turn take our
successes and failures to every other corner of
The challenges we face in a transforming academia
foreshadow what is already here just about everywhere
What about when energy becomes abundant and easily
created in each of our homes? Already individual
customers are feeding power back into the grid and
watching their meters run backwards, pay deposited
rather than due.
How about when we can readily 3-D print anything we
need ... from simple functional guns to a Porsche, New
York steaks, high-fashion clothes, even the elemental
parts of life itself – limbs, organs, brains?
We are not only on the cusp; we already have toes
across the threshold.
Can we develop new systems that distribute wealth,
when the measures of wealth itself become
self-distributing, as knowledge has become despite the
best efforts of entrenched powers to control it?
Most importantly, can we shift our mindsets to modes
of personal growth, rather than material enrichment
that have governed our social interactions since we
rose from the muck?
There are no easy answers to a transformation where
even the questions come hard.