Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Education for Life

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Redefining Universities Panel - GES 2012, Photo by the author

The following article deals with the topic “Redefining Universities,” which is currently being discussed at the Global Economic Symposium in Rio. The author intends to enrich the discussion at the symposium with her personal stories and ideas.

Redefining Universities Panel - GES 2012, Photo by the author

Redefining Universities Panel - GES 2012 | Photo by the author

The Redefining Universities Panel brings two mega-trends to the Global Economic Symposium: individualization and massification in higher education.

Massification is not the right solution. Perhaps it’s the first solution arrived at in order to quickly cover the gap in lower education levels, mainly in developing countries. A research study prepared by the group BOX1824, a Brazilian company that specializes in trends and consumer behavior (among those between 18 and 24 years old), has launched a search proving that this generation is seeking not just money but also a meaningful job, that is to say, work that fills the heart with passion. Since, generally, this is the Brazilian generation most enrolled in universities, we can’t say that what they want is just good value for the money, or as that also means, massification.

(You can see BOX1824 research here: We all want to be young.)

As a panelist said, “Most universities around the world still strive for the same goal: to be a globally well-known research institution.” And what are those universities doing to engage the students in achieving that goal?

“There isn’t any investment in research about what students learn at universities,” another panelist commented, about what is really effective for them and about the knowledge they acquire. That means, what do they really bring to professional life?

During this discussion the panel repeatedly returned its focus to online degree courses. How is the professional market for these students? Are they being employed? Are they simply stacking up credits without getting any return on their education? For sure they aren’t.

Universities have to look to the Internet as a new social good for every place, all over the world, that can get Internet access. And this also means that those who are economically and geographically removed from the progress will continue in that situation; but that is another problem.

However, how do you value and guarantee a good academic course on a free media outlet like the Internet?

It’s necessary to have specific, transparent and individual assistance for the students, professors, and those involved with online universities. The course quality control will come together that way.

“Are employers going to recognize skills learned online?” “What is the appropriate level certification for an internet diploma?” Many questions were asked during the one-hour-and-fifteen-minute panel, and the solutions are moving forward at GES 2012.

But one panelist’s answer is true, and we just need to face it: “Most universities are concerned about transmitting values and not about creating values.”

Education is not just taking four years of courses; it’s about carrying your education with you for life, like a tattoo inked in mind and spirit.



Elis Anjos Twitter: @elisanjos

Designer and thinker, creating for the world, working from Rio.