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Integral Education: Strategic Challenges and roadmap ahead (XX). University Shift Perspective (Part A)

Hope you enjoyed a beautiful Christmas time. At Eleonora Escalante Strategy we are committed to finishing this theme before New Year´s Eve, and we are also extremely happy that we completed the strategic innovation subtheme before Christmas. Let´s see where we are right now:

Eliescalante Integral Education Outline.jpg

We will start to digest why University matters. Why the University level is so crucial in our quest to be educated people.

Many people believe that university is a factory of people to fill jobs. Particularly nowadays, many managers and CEOs have lost the concept of the University. They believe students get into University to get a brains´ qualification which will allow them with a liberal education degree to be a factory human resource. This perspective is wrong. University is not a manufacturing brain plant or factory. So sorry if people believe this.

barbara-m-white-quote-the-basic-purpose-of-a-liberal-arts-educationUniversity is the place for the education of our brains and our whole being with a purpose. Means the whole development of an individual, apart from his or her occupational training. University includes “the civilizing of a human being life purposes, the refining of his or her emotional reactions, and the maturing of his or her understanding of the nature of things according to the best knowledge of our time”. University is a place that has been designed to develop ourselves in educated people. It is a place of liberal education.

matters.jpgWhat is Liberal Education? Liberal education is the purpose of a college or the university. Liberal education or Liberal Arts or sometimes called General Education. And it´s one way to describe the four or five years of instruction in the universities or colleges. These years are divided into three parts: (1) A year of general or core curriculum; (2) A year of electives allowing the students to discover and pursue their own academic interests; (3) Two or Three years to devote to a major or concentration in a special subject of interest for the student (English, sociology, hospitality, business, economics, agriculture, engineering, literature, etc). The totality of these studies leads to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. And these 4 or 5 years in total are called a liberal education.

Educating-the-mind-without-educating-the-heart-is-no-education-at-all.-―-Aristotle.jpgAccording to Henry Rosovsky, the university is a place to be educated for a lifespan of challenges, a lengthened time horizon that will require from us to re-invent ourselves several times in our life. An educated person should have a mind prepared for this challenging and disruptive milieu. The university helps us to be continuous learners. It helps us to learn new skills and new ideas at various points in life, and we are much better prepared to slurp, critique, adapt, transform, re-invent and regenerate for the future. We also are able to help the next generations in this quest. Each of us who have attended university knows that many methods of work and do things have changed or have been improved, many theories have been off and will be discarded, and new discoveries will be made. The university helps our brains to evolve in knowledge and wisdom to make the right decisions in our professions. “Liberal Education should endow students with three qualities: modesty, humanity, and humor” (Buchan).

EducatedPersonThe University must have standards to help us to be educated persons: “Rosovsky has formulated five premises of the university main goal-to create educated persons:

  1. An educated person must be able to think and write clearly and effectively
  2. An educated person should have a critical appreciation of the ways in which we gain knowledge and understanding of the universe, of society and of ourselves.
  3. An educated person cannot be provincial or local, in the sense of being ignorant of other cultures and other times or epochs
  4. An educated person is expected to have some understanding of, and experience in thinking about moral and ethical problems and how to solve ethical dilemmas
  5. Finally, an educated individual should have achieved depth in some field of knowledge. This field is called major or concentration”.

Primary and secondary schools have the great responsibility to prepare students in the basic skills which will help students to get into a university.

johnson school.jpgThe university must be the superior place where our brains can develop up to the maximum. This can´t be done by email or by searching in Google. The majority of universities of a recognized prestige do have a proper infrastructure and the best of faculty professors with required standards to be accredited. Moreover, there are levels of accreditation by lieu (national, regional, international, global) and by area of domain.

The University is located in a place, which has to be of a certain size. This means there are certain areas which must be part of a University to fulfill the needs and wants of the university stakeholders which are students, faculty professors, teaching assistants, administrative staff and the rest of the University personnel.

A University without its people and basic infrastructure is “whatever” but not a university.

The basic university infrastructure must have:

  • Independent rooms to receive lectures with certain standards
  • Cubicles or offices for the professors and teaching assistants
  • Some places for the students to interact with other students: Study meeting rooms, cafeterias-restaurants, green spaces-gardens, lodging accommodations, labs to experiment, entrepreneurial labs, libraries or bibliotheques, cultural-artistic centers, sports facilities, etc.
  • Technology and Research Labs
  • Some places for the students to be alone: Study rooms for individual students
  • Administrative Staff Offices and the bursar
  • Some places for the students’ recreational activities which are not sports.

Once we understand that a University has to be set in a place, with all the areas required for the students and professors best brain development, it is time to realize that good universities public or private (the ones with higher academic standards and admission requirements) are usually extremely selective. How do students get into a highly selective university or college? If you are parents of teenagers which are almost ready to finish high-school, I am sure you are asking yourself the question: How do I get my daughter or son into a highly selective university? And how do my kid be granted with a scholarship?

ivy league admissions

Ivy League Admissions, the Year 2017. Source: Business Insider.

For example, let´s talk about the USA: the Ivy League Schools. Some decades ago, the Ivy League schools in America (Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth) adhered to a “need-blind” admission and scholarship policy. This means prospective students were evaluated without considering the family´s money or economic background ability to pay. Ivy league universitiesIf the prospective candidate were selected for joining the class, it happened on the basis of academic and leadership or other qualifications. Moreover, the university arranged the financial aid package (grants, loans, part-time jobs) that should come close to meeting any shortage of the family.  Look how selective it is to get into an Ivy League? Ivy League Universities accept between 5% to 13% of each year´s applicants. In America, other non-Ivy-League schools with an excellent reputation such as MIT, Stanford, are usually between 10% to 30% of acceptance.

education-quotes-–-William-Arthur-WardIn other countries, like mine, the selectivity is also higher at top private universities, and it is not the case for the public universities or colleges. The same happens with the quality of faculty professors. Public universities don´t have the possibility to pay for excellent professors. Why is this happening? Top Universities must keep selectiveness and excellent professors, regardless if they are public or private.

Let´s analyze why universities with a high degree of prestige are interested in the top quality of the brains of the students who are accepted. Selection procedures in elite universities all over the world include something else than SAT scores or academic scholastic aptitude test scores. Even though the test scores and grades during high-school play a major role (kind of the first step), the next step requirements are usually: personality, subjective, qualitative and non-quantifiable holistic talented conditions. Top Universities wish the crème of the crème in their courses. They wish to see strategic innovators in the essays, interviews, recommendations from teachers, on top of their essence of academically highly gifted students. Usually, these students are just 5% of all the applicants. And these highly talented and academic superstars are usually persisted by these elite universities.

If an elite or top university is a place which has to be filled with highly talented people (professors and students and staff), what has happened? Why are these universities losing their ground? Have you seen that some of these universities are now seen as resources factories for companies, instead of the place to learn to develop integral strategic innovation for the future or the place to be educated? What are the challenges for the traditional university concept models and how can they keep their original value for the needs and wants of the future generations?

Stay tuned. Tomorrow we will continue with the theme University Shift Perspective…

Thank you so much!bee trasero

Source References Utilized to write this article:

Disclaimer: All the presentation slides shown on this blog are prepared by Eleonora Escalante MBA-MEng. Nevertheless, all the pictures or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated. 


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