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Academia Next

The Futures of Higher Education

The outlook for the future of colleges and universities is uncertain. Financial stresses, changing student populations, and rapidly developing technologies all pose significant challenges to the nation's colleges and universities. In Academia Next, futurist and higher education expert Bryan Alexander addresses these evolving trends to better understand higher education's next generation.

Alexander first examines current economic, demographic, political, international, and policy developments as they relate to higher education. He also explores internal developments within postsecondary schooling, including those related to enrollment, access, academic labor, alternative certification, sexual assault, and the changing library, paying particularly close attention to technological changes. Alexander then looks beyond these trends to offer a series of distinct scenarios and practical responses for institutions to consider when combating shrinking enrollments, reduced public support, and the proliferation of technological options.

Arguing that the forces he highlights are not speculative but are already in play, Alexander draws on a rich, extensive, and socially engaged body of research to best determine their likeliest outcomes. It is only by taking these trends seriously, he writes, that colleges and universities can improve their chances of survival. An unusually multifaceted approach to American higher education that views institutions as complex organisms, Academia Next offers a fresh perspective on the emerging colleges and universities of today and tomorrow.

About the Author

Bryan Alexander is an internationally known futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher. A senior scholar at Georgetown University, he is the author of The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media and Gearing Up for Learning Beyond K–12.

Endorsementss

"Institutions of higher education need to be reimagined, and there is no better student of the future of higher ed than Bryan Alexander. The test of any futurist is his or her track record, and so far, Alexander has been a beacon of light in the murky field of educational forecasting."

- Howard Rheingold, Rheingold U, author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution

"Using environment scanning and the scenario method, Alexander weaves together various trends in higher education, giving us an expanded—and more realistic—picture of what may come in the future. He is also clear about how these scenarios will impact different segments of higher education. This book will be read by university presidents, administrators, boards of trustees, faculty, policymakers, foundation directors, educational journalists, and educational entrepreneurs."

- David J. Staley, The Ohio State University, author of Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education

"Bryan Alexander has thought longer and more penetratingly about the future of education than anyone I know. Academia Next is the capstone of all that work. At once, it is a practical guide for those who would reinvent colleges and universities as well as a richly researched exploration of the forces that will reshape our world. From this day forth, no one will be able to say that they haven't been warned about what's ahead and haven't been schooled how to deal with it."

- Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center, coauthor of Networked: The New Social Operating System

"In a time of great flux for colleges and universities, Bryan Alexander provides a clear-eyed view of the forces at work, the major shifts happening online and off, and the large-scale trends that are impacting the world of education. While there are no easy answers, Alexander asks exactly the right questions and provides the essential context for anyone who cares about the academy to begin to adapt to the future that is already frighteningly close."

- Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration / Dean, University Library, Northeastern University

"With his usual generosity and clarity of expression, Alexander invites us to imagine not only what futures of higher education may come but what futures we want."

- Anya Kamenetz, NPR, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education

"Unlike many futurists, Bryan Alexander grounds his views of the future in careful assessment of the past and present. The range of his documentation is breathtaking and the result is a more credible and authoritative book than the glib generalizations offered by others. This book will be the reference point for forecasting about higher education for many years to come."

- Richard Ekman, President, The Council of Independent Colleges

"Alexander's book is ambitious at a moment when we need ambition. Exhaustively researched and accessibly written, it's a challenge to those of us who care about higher education to raise our sights while we still have the option. Alexander's critique is sympathetic but unsparing; I gasped several times as I read it. It's bracing, in the best sense of the word."

- Matthew Reed, Vice President for Learning, Brookdale Community College

"Elegant and compelling, Academia Next explains how political, economic, technological, and cultural trends will combine to produce the educational institutions of the future. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to know what learning will look like in decades to come."

- Michelle Miller, Director, First Year Learning Initiative / Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Northern Arizona University

"Higher education isn't at a crossroads—it is at a traffic circle with multiple exits! The majority of students recognize the value of post-secondary education and are open to obtaining an education in unconventional and innovative ways. In a world of abundant information, higher education institutions need to transition from distributing data to providing students the opportunity to create intelligence and original ideas from the world's information. In this critical book, Bryan Alexander examines the future of American higher education. He methodically examines data-based forecasts and trends and gives post-secondary education leaders the intelligence they need to navigate the future of learning. Anyone concerned about the future of higher education in the United States needs to read this book."

- Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist
Johns Hopkins University Press
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