Planning Models for Colleges and Universities

Planning Models for Colleges and Universities

Planning Models for Colleges and Universities

Planning Models for Colleges and Universities

Excerpt

Planning models have been of lively interest at Stanford since the early 1970's. This book is aimed at sharing that experience and the insights gained from it with our colleagues in higher education. Most of the material to be presented was developed here, and much of that has actually been put to use in university planning and problem solving. We believe that it is applicable in a wide variety of other settings.

Models are becoming recognized as very useful aids in planning and decision making. Yet their usefulness is often exaggerated beyond all proportion. This may be done in a context of enthusiasm, with expectations that models will actually produce plans or decisions. Or models may engender fears that they will, without doubt, lead to bad plans or decisions.

Our own view, strongly held, is that models can be powerful tools that permit people to produce better plans or decisions than would be possible otherwise. Our experience in both building and using models tells us that planning and decision making are arts and must remain so. Though there is science in modeling, the essential processes of specifying and interpreting models of the kind to be discussed in this book are not inherently scientific. Subjective judgment prevails.

Models do not "produce" plans or decisions, good or bad. People do. The objective of this book is to help people improve their understanding of relevant phenomena and issues in higher education, so that they can make better judgments.

Naturally a book about mathematical models will involve a good deal of mathematics. We have used mathematical notation freely as a language of expression and, where necessary, have developed solutions or interpretations. However, we have tried also to illustrate the text freely with explanations and numerical examples that are as nontechnical as possible, even though the manuscript has grown as a result and may sometimes bore the mathematically sophisticated. Unusually technical material is relegated to appendixes, or, in a few places, clearly set off in the text.

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