During a day-long “priorities conference” for fundraising at my university today, the idea came about that we should help our students develop a business plan for enacting their life’s work. The idea is that income, vis-a-vis a job (presumably) is actually pretty important, but equally if not more important is ensuring that students can tap into work that has meaning, that they do well, and that energizes them.* This discussion was in part prompted by the news today that a University of Florida task force is recommending differential tuition for humanities courses, meaning that humanities courses would cost students more. (Side editorial comment: Worst Idea Ever.)
A second theme of the day seemed to be affordability — higher educational institutions are going to have to (correction: HAVE TO) find more affordable ways to deliver high quality learning experiences. And you know why? Because all of us are inadvertently (or in some cases, intentionally, I suppose) limiting access to people who could most use higher education. And why are we doing this? Because it costs so darn much!
So how can we:
- lower the costs of higher education while
- increasing really good learning experiences while
- offering these really good learning experiences to more people while
- allowing for meaningful personalization while
- connecting it all to employability?
(Hint: Though MOOCs are cool and interesting and are indicators of major change, they are probably not the answer to this question.)
I think stating this conundrum in this way has just helped me clarify the need to develop a business plan for my life’s work.
*An aside – this also reminded me of The Good Work Project.