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Integral Education: Strategic Challenges and roadmap ahead (XXI). University Shift Perspective: Why a Ph.D. matters? (Part B)

the best teachersFifteen years ago, I received a gift from my mentor and former boss Daniel Wisecarver at Escuela Superior de Economia y Negocios (ESEN).  His gift was a book called “The University” from Henry Rosovsky. Doctor Wise (as we call him), the Academic Dean was my boss. He always gave me space for creativity and strategic innovation when I was trying to learn how to be a professor. He knew I wanted to pursue a Ph.D.  Even though I have two master degrees, he knew that the Ph.D. in Business Administration was the required step for me to be considered to work in academics in top US universities as a professor. In consequence, Doctor Wise found the economic resources to send me to Wharton, to NYU, to Columbia and LBS to explore the programs and potential faculty thesis advisers at that time. I am so thankful for Rosovsky`s book. Doctor Wise always taught me where to look, but did not tell me what to see. It was my own task to discover it.

the UniversitySome information about the author of this gift book. Henry Rosovsky is now 90 years old, and he is the Geyser University Professor Emeritus at Harvard, an economic historian, specialized in East Asia, and for many years, Harvard University administrator.  Many of what I will write today is from this book, and I wish to remark the credits to him. I have curated some of his paragraphs to offer you a better overview of his ideas. I think this book is a classic journey about putting the university where it has to be.

Henry rosovsky

Henry Rosovsky

Rosovsky is an American immigrant who was born in Gdańsk. He was able to travel to the USA, got into Harvard and wrote several books and reports about education. I cite his ideas because Rosovsky chaired the Task Force on Higher Education and Society convened by the World Bank and UNESCO to explore the future of higher education in developing countries. Rosovsky report, “Peril and Promise” argued that higher education systems in poor countries are in crisis and made a case for renewed investment, curricular reform and improved standards of governance.

Let`s start.

Yesterday I was writing about the liberal education, the purpose of it, and what is, in general, a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. This is related to undergraduate level education. Undergraduate and graduate students in American Universities have different intellectual goals.  As explained in my previous post, candidates for the Bachelor`s degree at selective schools are seeking a liberal education or a general education. They are required to choose a major or concentration, and the principal purpose of undergraduate education is to give the student some exposure to learning in depth. But the university is a university because of the graduate school community and its purpose.

contentWithout a graduate school of arts and sciences, a university would be only a college. And in consequence, the training of Ph.D.’s is a necessary condition for its university status. It is what makes a university a university. Ph.D. training is a fundamental and necessary condition for universities. There is no substitute for it. It is the one activity dedicated to the survival of the university by training future generations of scholars and researchers. Faculty professors consider the teaching and training of new generations of graduate students (Ph.D.s, and Post-doctorates) as their highest calling. Graduate students are the faculty`s young disciples who ensure the continuity of learning.

A university has to be intoxicated with the word research in every single area and level of study. If a University doesn`t breathe research, something is not right there. It is in research where the University is fulfilling the strategic innovation foundation for professors and students. Research is the source of new ideas and inspiration to evolve in knowledge and wisdom. A professor is assumed to be a producer of new knowledge which after proof of evidence is worthy to be disseminated to students and society. An excellent professor is a producer of innovative content which is useful for others. A professor who doesn`t do research with a purpose is not fulfilling his or her mission. Integral Education University Shift.jpg

Many university professors all over the world do not have even a master degree, not even a Ph.D. However, they are lecturers in recognized universities. Why? I understand the value of the practitioners and that is why when they teach they are called visiting professors or visiting or adjunct lecturers, but the university objective to hire them is another one. Moreover, let`s think a little bit deeper: Even if professors have a doctorate degree, many of them, once they are removed from an excellent faculty team or elite school work environment (i.e: Those professors who are sent to work to universities located in developing nations), they stop to do research and to publish. Living in Central America has given me a perspective of what are Ph.D.s doing here. There is a limited amount of Ph.D.`s living in this region, and usually, they stop to do research or publish once they are here. Why? Many of them don`t even teach anymore, simply because their market value as a professor is so low and they are not able to make a decent living with the wages offered to them by private and public universities. Excellent quality professors are starving. So sad!

Let`s see another perspective beyond the poverty of developing nations who do not reward their Ph.D.s. Let`s go to the PhDs from developed countries: What is happening to the Ph.D.s who dedicate their life to teach and do research, but write tons of papers which are useless? Papers or research publications, which do not have an impact in doing any good to his-her students, or society? I have met Ph.Ds.  as such, who only care about writing or publishing as if they are in horse racing competition, but their publications do not have the holistic integral purpose to create knowledge for balance or advancement or transformation or critiques to change the wrongdoings of businesses. Something in their mental frameworks is not in tune with the needs and wants of the society, but the needs and wants of their own. Their goal is like writing tons of documents, which will be published and never used it.

bill gates quoteThis last paragraph sends us directly to clarify the word “research” by separating it from the wrong concepts. Nowadays, the word research has been so demoralized. It is used so commonly for commercial purposes only with the determination of developing new products to increase profits and stockholders gains. Others use the word research as a synonym of a security agency investigation. Others use this word as an activity to seek and look into things by curiosity, without testing.

What is research? Research according to the Webster College Dictionary is “Studious inquiry; usually critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation having for its aim the revision of accepted conclusions in the light of newly discovered facts”.

If you are a university professor and reading this blog, please ask yourself the motives of your research (if you do it), and if not why have you lost your capacity of doing it? “Intellectual excitement is enhanced by contact with people who have written books, done major experiments, and held policy positions”… These discoveries are usually on the campus of top research universities. Graduate schools (Ph.D. programs) are a necessary condition for the faculty survival. If graduate students pursuing doctorate programs disappear or become a tiny number, there is no university. Scientific research, particularly in laboratories, would become nearly impossible.a good teacher.jpg

Let`s finish this subtheme: University Shift perspective: why a Ph.D. matters? With the following reflections wrap-up.

  • A country which doesn`t produce and doesn`t treasure its most dedicated and talented “oeuvres d`art” in university education, requires emergency surgery. It is so sad to see excellent talents who pursued several master degrees or doctorate programs, and are currently starving, begging for their subsistence. In addition, dignified academic security of full-time employment for future Ph.D. professors is extremely important to accomplish the university mission.
  • A university without graduate PhD creation is not a university. It is, of course, a center of education or college or specialized institute for education, but not a university.
  • Strategic innovation is triggered by doing academic research for development impact of societies. Faculty professors who are able to be producers of new knowledge-based in research are interested to promote Ph.D.s, who will do the same in the future, to ensure the continuity of learning. In addition, students know when their teachers are innovative through research.

On my next post we will continue with a subject that is related to research at university levels: The shift from “studying only” to “learning by thinking before doing”.

Stay tuned. Thank you.bee

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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