On Tuesday, June 12, the group discussed all of the six policy possibilities in the Interactivity Foundation report “The Future of Higher Education.” The group began by exploring several possible definitions of “higher education” and then wended its way through the report from there. Many of the possibilities – including for example Possibility B (Higher Education for a Better World) and Possibility F (One-World Education) – were discussed in tandem, as the group explored the sinewy connections between the possibilities.
There was an underlying cynicism among several of the participants as possibilities were raised that posited higher education as a tool for leveling the playing field for all people. It proved impossible to remove capitalism (and its often-demonized child, competition), the umbrella under which the cynicism took cover, from the equation. There also was recognition among the participants that the concerns raised in the report are uniquely evolving, and wedding ourselves to possibilities around such amorphous concerns is very difficult. Of the possibilities discussed, the idea of holding institutions of higher education accountable to the local communities in which they are situated seemed most viable and appealing to the group.
Several questions in addition to those considered in the report were raised: What is higher education? What should higher education do? How much can individual success be used to measure success of the greater good?