From Wired Campus (The Chronicle of Higher Education), “Start-Up Lets Graduates Raise Money in Exchange for a Share of Future Earnings.“
It is old news that college costs have far out-paced wages over the past generation. The real question that universities will ultimately have to face, just like any other business, is what is the value add? How are the charges justified? Let’s take rankings for a moment. If a university accepts the top high school students what does the university actually do to provide value to those students? No one would rank car companies based on the materials that they place on the production line. Rather, car companies are ranked on the products that they produce. What if colleges and universities were held to account on those measures? What if students didn’t have to pay until value was produced by the college or university? No one pays a car company in advance simply because the car company is ranked “#1 in the nation” on incoming raw materials. People pay car companies (or any other business) for the value that they produce.
If universities would focus on the value they bring to students, the way that they can transform their lives, perhaps university costs would not be so out-of-control. Instead of asking, “How many costly dorms and other amenities can we build to attract the best students?” the questions should be “Given the precious resources we already have, what can we do to magnify the abilities of our learners, provide enduring value to them (and to society) long-term so that we are the university everyone begs to join?”
I benefit from collaboration every day. But collaboration and interdisciplinarity is structurally challenging, especially in Higher Ed where well-defined fields and siloed thinking are the norm and expected to be maintained if one seeks to advance in a career. Crossing disciplines, though verbally praised in Higher Ed, seldom is awarded. Unfortunately, the problems the world currently faces cannot be solved by disciplinary or siloed thinking alone. The problems of the world are too vast and complex for any one person to resolve or for any one field or discipline to tackle on their own. Collaboration and interdisciplinarity are essential. Theses are core skills of the 21st century. Colleges and universities that can help students develop interdisciplinarity will do far greater good than those who stick to tradition and disciplinary thinking alone. Disciplinary thinking is still essential. In fact, one cannot be interdisciplinary if they do not have a discipline. So more must be done to foster collaboration and interdisciplinarity at colleges and universities so that learners are truly prepared to be life-long contributors to society and persistent problem solvers across disciplines. Perhaps with more collaboration and interdisciplinarity there would be far less ideological bravery, which has contributed to so much incivility in our society. I can’t imagine that anyone believes we need even more incivility. Hence, why not create the conditions and expectations that ideologies alone are anathema and instead of honoring the ideologue, we honor those who expand collaboration and interdisciplinarity for all? Here is just one short article on the power of collaboration from Science magazine.
“Values are as Real as Grain Prices.” An excellent one page article/interview by Carlos Eire, Yale Professor of History and Religious Studies. In Yale University Divinity School publication Reflections.
“Beliefs and values actually do define societies, cultures, and civilizations. I say this because intellectual history as an academic discipline is nearly dead. What has taken its place is a crypto-Marxist notion that material factors and issues of class, race, and gender are the only “real” dimension in history. According to this dominant point of view, beliefs are just symptoms of deeper, purely material concerns, not causal factors. This makes religion as inconsequential as a hiccup. But certainly societies are moved by beliefs and ideals, even if these are in constant interplay with material factors. I believe ideals and values are as real as grain prices, and make even more of a difference in the way people live.”
“I also believe that some beliefs and ideals are infinitely better than others.”
“Moral relativism is undoubtedly as great a threat to the human race today as intolerance and nuclear and biological warfare.”
“Paradoxically, the toughest question we face in the West is whether or not we can afford to tolerate those who espouse intolerance at one extreme and moral relativism at the other.”
“The failure of socialist regimes: one important explanation is that the underlying informal norms of what people do with their work lives were never integrated with the planned economies in an effective way.”
Yale Lecture 12 on Capitalism, Accountability and Greed in Investment Banking. A few notes below.
- Clear Initial Entitlements
- High Transparency
- Low Transaction Cost
My question: What would the Coase Theorem have to say about the business of education, specifically the business of Higher Education?
- What are the clear initial entitlements in the business of education?
- Does the business of education have high transparency?
- Are there low transaction costs in the business of education?
Yale Lecture 11 on Capitalism: Institutions and Incentives in Mortgages and Mortgage-Backed Securities. Interesting question: is there a correlation, or even a causation, between the explosive growth of skyscrapers in New York City and easily accessible funding? The answer to this question has bearing on the recent housing bubble.