Engines of Innnovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century

Engines of Innnovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century

Engines of Innnovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century

Engines of Innnovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century

Synopsis

In Engines of Innovation, Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein make the case for the pivotal role of research universities as agents of societal change. They argue that universities must use their vast intellectual and financial resources to confront global challenges such as climate change, extreme poverty, childhood diseases, and an impending worldwide shortage of clean water. They provide not only an urgent call to action but also a practical guide for our nation's leading institutions to make the most of the opportunities available to be major players in solving the world's biggest problems.
A preface and a new chapter by the authors address recent developments, including innovative licensing strategies, developments in online education, and the value of arts and sciences in an entrepreneurial society.

Excerpt

The proverb “be careful what you wish for” applies to the events that followed the publication of the first edition of Engines of Innovation. It was our hope that a worldwide economic crisis would become an opportunity too important to miss and would give rise to innovative approaches to the world’s biggest problems, with America’s research universities leading the way in finding solutions. We got much more than we bargained for. The meltdown was not merely a financial event but rather a fundamental challenge to the most basic assumptions about our society and the institutions that anchor it. Geopolitical alignments such as the European Union have been tested by economic realities whose resolution had long been postponed. Repressive political regimes were confronted and in some instances toppled by democratic movements aided by social media. The very existence of many of the world’s largest corporations and financial institutions has been challenged, and in many cases their underlying economic models are in question. Grassroots, citizen-led movements challenging the status quo exist in virtually every major country, including our own, increasing instability throughout the world.

Research universities have not been exempt from the turmoil. The initial shock of eroded endowments was followed by substantial cuts in governmental support, especially for state-supported universities, requiring cost-cutting responses that ranged from the enactment of much-needed efficiencies to draconian cuts in faculty numbers and compensation that threaten the long-term viability of state-supported research universities. With the restoration of a degree of financial stability, at least for research universities, it has become clear that a new normal has taken shape, in which, as we predicted in the first edition of Engines, students, faculty, parents, trustees, state and federal government, and the public at large all expect more from institutions often referred to as the crown jewels of our society. The often-contradictory demands from these diverse constituencies include questioning the value of tenure for faculty, preparing students more effectively for the job market, increasing the graduation rate among enrolled students and the number of college graduates overall, reducing the cost of higher education and the taxpayers’ role in financing it, reducing need-based financial aid, reforming intercollegiate athletics, and providing an array of alternatives to the residential college experience . . .

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