Colleges and universities face the triple challenge (Ehrmann, 1995, p. 24) of making higher education more accessible, more affordable, and more effective. Among the strategies proposed to achieve these objectives none are more philosophically and politically divergent than the ones offered by millennial restructuralists and incremental reformers. The magnitude of the rift between the two viewpoints is manifest over such specific issues as academic freedom, faculty oversight, promotion and tenure, the nature and extent of interaction between faculty and students, and the role of adjunct faculty. The literature, as we have seen, is replete with opinions on how these interconnected issues will affect the overriding objectives of access, cost, and effectiveness.
With academic institutions continuing to venerate the god of inertia, any quick resolution to this debate remains highly unlikely. In the present situation, the best way to achieve harmony may be to consider an analogy suggested by noted physicist Edward Teller. In a lecture to a lay audience at Pepperdine College in the late 1970s, Teller proposed an idea of Neils Bohr, drawn from quantum mechanics and applied by Teller to contemporary global problems. The principle is complementarity, which states that [one cannot get an objective and complete understanding in any situation unless one starts from two (or more) approaches that appear to be mutually exclusive] (Teller, 1981, p. 105). In atomic theory, Teller explains, an electron (or light) can be described as a particle or as a wave, with considerable justification for either theory. What is useful here is Teller's extrapolation from atomic theory to address contemporary global problems:
I am proposing that we learn to consider issues from
two apparently contrary views at the same time and
then choose the mixture that best suits the individual
situation. No doubt this idea will be subject to charges
of double standards and batting for one side while
pitching for the other, of inconsistency and possibly
even worse. Yet, just as it was necessary to adopt
complementarity in atomic science to obtain under-
standing and simplicity, it seems equally imperative to
adopt such an approach to global problems. (p. 139)
Such an approach permits conclusions and recommendations to be made concerning issues of access, cost, and
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Publication information: Book title: Digital Dilemma: Issues of Access, Cost, and Quality in Media-Enhanced and Distance Education. Contributors: Gerald C. Van Dusen - Author. Publisher: Jossey-Bass. Place of publication: San Francisco. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 84.
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