Engaging the Forces Propelling the Repurposing of Higher Education

This paper explores the nature and some of the probable effects on higher education (HE) of four major emergent global dynamics: the emergence of the Work 4.0 culture, climate change, the continuing pattern of national and international realignments, and transforming population dynamics--in particular, the aging of global populations. All four of these macro social changes will impact HE in a variety of ways. This paper focuses on suggesting ways in which HE as a social value and set of practices may respond to these macro changes. In specific I inquire into the varied elements of Work 4.0 and seek to link them to the repurposing of HE. I also ask how an impending global climate change emergency will impact higher education with particular emphasis on the likely responses of both national governments and international organizations. This focus dovetails in some national settings (most specifically the USA) with the rise of nationalism and a policy predilection for national versus international solutions to various issues. And finally, the paper raises the question of how changing population dynamics are affecting HE, in specific, the kinds of novel subject matter, research and delivery systems that will likely emerge with a globally aging population?

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