Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Higher Education and Technology Transfer: The Effects of "Techno-Sclerosis" on Development

Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Higher Education and Technology Transfer: The Effects of "Techno-Sclerosis" on Development

Article excerpt

The merging of information technologies through digital transformation has strengthened the potential impacts of technology and education on social and economic development. Today's rapid pace of change and the globalized impacts of those changes reinforce the need to develop a global culture of continuous learning and new models of higher education that will provide a continuous resource for knowledge updating and professional development. I argue that the modern university has fallen behind the pace of technological change and has become increasingly irrelevant to the reality of life in an interconnected and globalizing world. Academic ethnocentrism has evolved within the residential discipline-oriented and tradition-defined higher education system. American universities have not kept up with the challenge of rapidly diagnosing and responding to increasingly complex and dynamic problems such as global warming, health and disaster mitigation. Current initiatives to improve U.S. development interventions fail to recognize the need to radically redesign higher education to implement the development initiatives of the future. A global technology-based educational movement reminiscent of the original concept of the land grant colleges in the United States is needed, which would tie an aggressive research agenda to critically examine the impacts of rapidly evolving technologies to a worldwide network of community-level agents of change that transmit positive results into immediate action. I outline a tentative plan of action based upon emerging evidence of better and more efficient training and educational models that are focused on broad-based sustainable development objectives. By removing the "techno-sclerotic" blinders and challenging the American academe to become more applied and more international, American universities can reassert their relevance and maintain their status as preeminent institutions of social change and innovation in the realm of global higher education.

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Information technology has been at the core of education and development thanks to its ability to move content further and faster via the telegraph, telephones, photography, film, radio and television. The merging of these technologies, through digital transformation has made the close association of technology with social and economic development more obvious.

I argue that the modern university, an institution that evolved, in part, to foster technology and provide direction for its use, has fallen behind the pace of technological change and has become increasingly irrelevant to the reality of life in an interconnected and globalizing world. I contend that disciplinary and institutional arrogance coupled with entrenched structures that resist change have prevented evidence-based change at a time when breakthrough technologies offer the first realistic opportunity to level the educational playing field worldwide. (1)

Building on the experience of the last forty years of development and higher education, I posit that the traditional system of higher education has reacted neither quickly nor well to changes in the relationship with, and access to, information, made possible by the information revolution. (2) While elements of this problem have been known for decades, I suggest that no real initiatives have emerged to address the key barriers standing in the way of rapid change. Academic ethnocentrism, which has evolved within the residential, discipline-oriented and tradition-defined higher education system, needs to be critically examined by educators and administrators and radical action needs to be taken to change the insular culture of these institutions, which are failing society by their inability to adjust. With a few exceptions, this paper argues that universities have been slow to support or even acknowledge changes in technology. As such, they require a new revolutionary paradigm for education and, by extension, development. …

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