GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

The Future of the University: A Perspective from the Oort Cloud


James J. Duderstadt
President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering
The University of Michigan
The New School
New York City, NY December 9, 2011


Whenever any group of university presidents gets together, the discussions always begin with the usual topics: money (never enough), politics (always too much), students (what are they up to now?), and for all too many university presidents these days, intercollegiate athletics (what is the next scandal?). However, after a bit of nudging, it is sometimes possible to push the conversation up to the 100,000 foot level to gain a better perspective of the key challenges and opportunities facing higher education today: the impact of the current global economic crisis on their institutions, the rising costs of education and research, the rapidly changing demographics of students as minorities become majorities, the reshaping of learning and research by rapidly evolving technologies, the emergence of powerful market forces, and the inadequate public understanding of the importance of the American university (Cole, 2009; Duderstadt, 2000)