WAAS & World University Consortium partner with International Association of University Presidents
CREATING THE FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Yokohama, Japan -- June 11-14, 2014
The work of the World University Consortium was featured at a special session of the XVII Triennial Conference of The International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) in Yokohama. IAUP, an organization whose members include more than 800 present and former presidents, vice-chancellors and rectors of universities around the world, is a charter member of World University Consortium.
In his keynote address, Mr. Nobuyuki Idei, former Chairman & CEO of Sony, spoke of an approaching tsunami in higher education akin to the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, eventually making way for the emergence of human civilization. Today’s universities today face multiple challenges and are under pressure to change radically in order to adjust to the needs of humanity in the 21st century. The challenge is to preserve the best of the existing system while rising to meet the social challenge of delivering more, better and more relevant education the world needs. This is in tune with the central purpose of WUC which is to evolve creative solutions.
These remarks set an appropriate context for the WUC special session on the need for a “New Paradigm in Higher Education”, which was chaired and introduced by Neal King, who just completed his term as IAUP President and now serves as Chair of the IAUP Board and a WUC Director.
In his presentation, Heitor Gurgulino de Souza, President of WUC and World Academy of Art & Science (WAAS), and former Rector of UN University, explained how rapid social evolution has generated a growing gap between educational capabilities and social needs today. Education plays a central role in human development. It is the technology humanity has developed to consciously accelerate our collective social evolution. It plays a key role in the development of new knowledge and theoretical understanding and also in passing on to youth the accumulated knowledge of humanity so the next generation can start off where we have left off and progress further, rather than constantly repeat old errors and reinvent the wheel. Today, more than effort, global social challenges necessitate rapid advances in both knowledge generation and knowledge delivery to keep pace with changing needs. The challenge we face in higher education is to rapidly expand accessibility and affordability while increasing the content, quality and relevance of what is taught to meet the needs of a new generation, including employability, team and leadership skills, environmental understanding, creativity, innovation and original thinking.
Garry Jacobs, Chair of the Board and CEO of WUC and WAAS, spoke of a coming “Revolution in Higher Education.” We are now in the very early stages of a revolution in global higher education akin to the Internet in 1994 which will radically transform the mode of knowledge delivery, the customer base, the content, the faculty and the way we manage educational delivery. Radical change is inevitable. But we have no assurance that this change will be all for the best. Imposition of a standardized global curriculum through massification may rob education of the quality, personal interaction, creativity and diversity needed to meet the diverse challenges that are coming. Therefore there is urgent need for new thinking on the future of education in order to conceptualize and strategize new models that will best meet the diverse needs of humanity. That is the principal mission of WUC.
The challenges we face are too important and too great to be left to chance, incremental processes of institutional change. The world needs leadership that can bring in new ideas and perspectives yet is strongly grounded in the current realities and the problems facing higher education today. This was the rationale for inviting IAUP to join as a founding member of WUC late last year and the invitation to WUC to participate in the IAUP conference.