How can we re-envision the university? Too many examples of what passes for educational innovation today—MOOCs especially—focus on transactions, on questions of delivery. In Alternative Universities, David J. Staley argues that modern universities suffer from a poverty of imagination about how to reinvent themselves. Anyone seeking innovation in higher education today should concentrate instead, he says, on the kind of transformational experience universities enact. In this exercise in speculative design, Staley proposes ten models of innovation in higher education that expand our ideas of the structure and scope of the university, suggesting possibilities for what its future might look like.
What if the university were designed around a curriculum of seven broad cognitive skills or as a series of global gap year experiences? What if, as a condition of matriculation, students had to major in three disparate subjects? What if the university placed the pursuit of play well above the acquisition and production of knowledge? By asking bold "What if?" questions, Staley assumes that the university is always in a state of becoming and that there is not one "idea of the university" to which all institutions must aspire.
This book specifically addresses those engaged in university strategy—university presidents, faculty, policy experts, legislators, foundations, and entrepreneurs—those involved in what Simon Marginson calls "university making." Pairing a critique tempered to our current moment with an explanation of how change and disruption might contribute to a new "golden age" for higher education, Alternative Universities is an audacious and essential read.
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