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The Evolution of Professions

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There’s rapid change occurring in traditional professions. The common theme appears to be an evolution from self-directed work to activities in support of the mission of a larger organization.

Physicians, once the epitome of the self-employed, are increasingly employees of large organizations, members of big teams of co-workers. Lawyers, another profession where “hanging out a shingle” was the metaphor to launching a career, now increasingly find themselves within large organizations whose mission has legal guidance only as an auxiliary function. Many architects work within units of institutions that require design skills, but only because they need to house large groups of workers performing activities that have nothing to do with architecture. These are examples of traditional professions.

The morphing also seems to apply to products of graduate education in more traditional disciplines. A recent report of the National Science Foundation notes that many STEM trained graduates find themselves working in fields without major STEM focus. Another report on physics PhD’s in nonacademic settings probes levels of salary and job satisfaction. The Modern Language Association 2014 report argues for more interdisciplinary content to PhD programs in language and literature. In contrast to the decline of self-employment among physicians, lawyers, and architects, this attention appears to be associated with the decline in academic job markets, related to demographic changes in the university-age U.S. population and declining government support for higher education. Increasingly, PhD’s are working in large nonacademic organizations.

In short, something’s afoot on several fronts regarding the post-baccalaureate higher education graduates. What are the implications for educational institutions that launch such new professionals into the world?

It’s seems fair to say that the traditional role of many graduate professional and PhD programs was to provide the graduate very deep and broad understanding of a well-defined body of knowledge. Any curricular feature that strayed outside that well-defined body of knowledge was generally meant to prepare for a single dominant occupational class of the profession. For example, law students were given training in moot court settings and in clinics with individual clients (often disadvantaged persons). Medical students were given clinical experiences through rotations in various specialties within a direct health care service or in private practice. Architects served long apprenticeships within an architectural practice. PhD students were given teaching experience. In short, the programs offered practical experience in activities central to the execution of the dominant occupation of the profession.

In contrast, few PhD and professional graduate programs tended to provide education in the knowledge needed to be effective leaders in large organizations. However, increasingly the graduates of these advanced education programs find themselves working within large organizations. In these organizations, they are not self-directed scholars. They are team members working to achieve the mission of the organization, a mission sometimes only tangentially related to their advanced education. They feel the dissonance of self-identity to their profession versus allegiance to the organization’s success. They work with others completely unschooled in their field. They find themselves leading others, supervising others, and motivating others. They find themselves confronted with budget constraints, making tradeoff decisions among alternative goals (some completely out of their professional domain), forecasting production, analyzing performance, and dealing with personnel problems.

It seems clear that, for the most part, universities have been slow to recognize the mismatch between how they are educating these advanced professionals and academics, on one hand, and what these graduates will need to know to achieve success. There are some programs, both at Georgetown and other universities, that attempt to give PhD and professional students more interdisciplinary education to help them attain leadership positions within larger organizations. These have great merit in serving the changing job markets of advanced degree holders.

However, one of the more difficult challenges of advanced programs is to educate for the new career realities of a field instead of replicating the education of the current leaders of a field. We need to ask ourselves whether we are training students for careers we experienced or training them for the careers they will experience. For the benefit of our future graduates, we need to attend to these issues.

Students as Producers Versus Consumers

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Hunter Rawlings, the president of the Association of American Universities, the consortium of the large research universities in the country, recently wrote a thoughtful essay challenging various beliefs about the key purposes of universities.

As more and more commentators are noting, assessing the value of a university based only on lifetime earnings (or even more radically, the income of the first job post graduation) misses many of the components of the experience.

However, Rawlings makes another point — thinking of university degrees as something to purchase, as a consumer product is also a dangerous misunderstanding. Students maximize the value of their higher education by maximizing the effectiveness of their studying. The more the students give of their own time, the higher the value of the purchased experience.

As we are discovering in the Designing the Future(s) activities, much learning of students takes place out of the classroom, in on-the-job experiences connected to their educational programs and in research-based work. The vast majority of these activities are situations in which the students are actively teaching themselves. That is, the students are investing their own time to achieve the benefits of the education.

In some sense, students are not consumers purchasing a good, they are producers of their own education guided by faculty mentors. They are not buying teaching; they are subscribing to a set of experiences that allows them to discover their talents and interests.

Rather than thinking of acquiring higher education as the purchase of shares of stock, in which a chief purpose is a passive return on investment, maybe it’s better to think of higher education as a fitness center where the chief purpose of the membership is better health status. The membership fee gives one access to exercise facilities and machines, but the health status benefits arise only if the member optimizes their use. The “return on investment” is fully in the hands of the member.

Good health through exercise can be achieved in many different ways. Some people thrive in group activities, using others to heighten motivation. Some emphasize cardiovascular health through aerobic exercise. Some lift weights. Choosing the right fitness center, like choosing the right university, is a matter of matching aspirations, self-knowledge, and the assets of the organization. But, just like a fitness center membership, students get their “return on investment” when they take advantage actively of all the resources of the organization. When students take charge of their education, direct it, invest deeply through their own time, only then do they gain the benefits of the higher education institution.

When students come to realize that they are the producers of their education, not consumers, then, higher education productivity is maximized.

Evolving a Supportive Environment for Interdisciplinarity

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I’ve written much in the past about alignment between universities and the wider world (see Interdisciplinary, Collaborative). Many of the problems in the world will not be solved with the knowledge from single disciplines, and, hence, universities need to make sure that they build environments in which faculty and students can easily combine work in multiple disciplines.

At Georgetown, we’re moving in that direction. We’ve reorganized the Graduate School to build new interdisciplinary programs. They will be built around coalitions of faculty in diverse units throughout the university. This is proceeding, and faculty who are working on similar issues from different disciplinary perspectives are coalescing around working together on such programs.

In designing these programs, a key goal will be liberating faculty who wish to work on such interdisciplinary issues, but also permitting them to maintain their citizenship in the current home departments. Such joint citizenship is not for everyone, nor should it be. It should, however, be available for those who thirst for such scholarship and instruction.

It must also be done in a way not to harm the existing departments’ delivery of their curricula. This means that the talent of faculty available to units must fit the needs of the enrollments in the current curricula.

To prepare for this new environment, we have altered the nature of the joint appointment process, setting up merit review and promotion procedures to reflect appropriately the contributions of the faculty to the interdisciplinary agenda (see Faculty Policies for joint appointment policy).

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll talk more about joint appointments and how we can build an environment that supports them and those who hold them.

A critical component of this is the promotion step, where we must assure that those evaluating the performance of the faculty member understand the interaction of multiple fields and how to assess quality for that intersection. If the interdisciplinary field, for example, draws on two disciplines, then three sets of expertise are needed — those from each of the fields and those from the interdisciplinary intersection. Peer review must be based on those who are experts in the interdisciplinary area.

Disciplines and schools vary in their support of interdisciplinary work. Thus, incentives must be tailored to the cultures of the various units. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll engage in the necessary dialogue to fashion such incentives.

Georgetown has consistently tackled the greatest issues facing humankind. The world needs Georgetown even more in the future, and facilitating joint appointments for those tackling the world’s most important problems is a wonderful way to address those needs.

Labor Economics, Exponential Organizations, Mentors, and Well-Being

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Many of us find ourselves reading multiple unrelated works at the same time and combining disparate works into a single observation. That’s been happening to me over the past few days.

First, I was looking at some older research in labor economics on the impact of technology on jobs. There has been large destruction of jobs in some sectors due to technological change. However, a now well-established finding is that (thus far) there are several job categories that appear less affected by technology. They include work that requires complicated interpersonal, cognitive, and physical skills — policemen, dentists, editors, artists, counselors, and surgeons. None of us know, of course, whether these occupations are merely not yet affected by technological disruptions or whether there are essential parts of the occupations that can never be replaced by machines. Technological progress appears to be on an unceasing advance. But for the time being, the rapid changes that have taken place in communication, financial transactions, retail commerce, manufacturing, etc., seem to have evaded these occupations. The same is currently true of academic faculty in higher education. And so, I think about why faculty activities have been so robust to technological changes.

Second, I’m reading another work right now that coined the phrase “exponential organization,” one whose growth is not linear but multiplicative. The most obvious examples are Uber, Google, etc. A common factor in these organizations is that they are much less dependent on human labor for their product or service. Most organizations, indeed, depend on information and algorithms as key components of their operations (Uber uses ratings of drivers and customers as a key tool; Google organizes information to be useful to unique user requests). Such organizations lie in stark contrast to those in which human labor produces the service or outcome — a craftsman produces a table in one week; two craftsmen produce two tables in one week. Labeling such enterprises as linear organizations, the authors argue that they are doomed to slow growth (and, they assert, limited nimbleness) because of the requisite trials and tribulations of human collaboration and authority structures. All of this is interesting because from one perspective, a university is the ultimate information-based organization.

Third, as part of our attempts to measure outcomes of our degree programs, I’ve been reading the results of various surveys of graduates. One attempted to measure engagement in one’s work and one’s general “well-being” among university graduates. The study found that graduates’ self-assessed well-being was twice as high among those who had had a faculty mentor who encouraged them to pursue their own goals, one who had made them excited about learning, and one who had cared about them as a person. These are powerful results, linked to a set of interpersonal relationships between individual faculty and students. Similar results apply to the outcome of whether the graduate is deeply engaged in their current occupation. Clearly, mere transmission of information from the minds of faculty to the minds of students does not alone achieve these positive outcomes.

When I put these disparate pieces of new reading together, I can’t help linking them to the last 18 months of global experience with online learning. With great hubris, we saw the launch of MOOCs, which self-labeled as a “fundamental disruption” to universities. Their laudable promise was making higher education accessible to all with internet access. It was a wonderful moment of exuberance. The idea had all the ingredients of an exponential organization; at least, that’s what we all were thinking at the moment. But they did not prove to launch exponential organizations. The audience was disproportionately not those who needed education, but those who already had an education — and already had an inner-thirst for learning. They were disproportionately those who already had learned how to learn and wanted more. There are far fewer such people in the world than those who have never experienced higher education.

Reflecting back on that moment and on my current three sets of reading, one hypothesis emerges. While much of the value of universities is related to their rich store of information within the minds of the faculty distributed to students, there is much more going on. The self-reports of the more successful in life (in both quality and engagement) suggest that deep interpersonal ties with faculty is part of the magic sauce of US higher education.

So an interesting question is how can we enhance the deep interpersonal mentoring that so enriches the intellect and character of graduates. Can technology actually free faculty to have more of that rich contact? Could the portion of faculty work that doesn’t offer such interpersonal opportunities be reduced through online tools? Can technology be used to transform the way students learn what is traditionally communicated in lectures? Can lectures then be replaced by small group work in direct contact with mentors? Could faculty research indeed be the credit-bearing project work that simultaneously addresses faculty scholarship and closer mentoring? In essence, which of the three missions of the university (formation of students’ characters, faculty scholarship, and service to the common good) can be improved through new technologies? Which can’t?

In essence, is there a portion of the mission of universities that could be organized in ways that “exponential organizations” are shaped, freeing up other portions of the mission to be enhanced? Those other portions might be inevitably “linear” in their growth, but with precious value to the outcome in students’ lives.

Learning by Seeing the Real Thing

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Yesterday, I attended the official opening of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. The newly constructed space, made possible by the generosity of the Booth Family and others, has all the possibilities of transforming Georgetown research and education. The Center is the new home for rare books, art works, and manuscripts acquired by the University over the centuries. In addition to being state of the art for the conservation of materials, it looks “cool,” with glass walls and high-tech features.

There is much talk these days about experiential learning, project-based learning, and learning-by-doing. Indeed, much of the work of the Georgetown Red House incubator, part of the Designing the Future(s) initiative, focuses on how we can move beyond the reading + lecture + exercises/paper + exam format of university courses. Complicated concepts communicated orally or in written form don’t often stick in the minds of the hearer. Research in the science of learning repeatedly shows the value of applying newly-found knowledge in real-life settings.

The same logic applies to the potential of the Special Collection facility. For students interested in American literature, for example, we have the manuscript, in Samuel Clemens’ own handwriting of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as it was sent to the printer prior to publication. Imagine you’re a student trying to delve deeper into what Samuel Clemens was intending to communicate in his writing. What did it mean that he scratched out one phrase in the editing of the book and replaced it with another phrase? As one passes through all of the edits, is there any theme that he was consistently trying to elaborate? Which chapters were subject to more late-stage editing than others? Was the writing regarding some characters in the book (Aunt Polly, Injun Joe, Huck, Tom, etc.) subject to more edits than that other characters?

None of these questions can be answered by reading the printed book. No digital image of the manuscript can convey the emotion that comes from touching the same piece of paper that Samuel Clemens handled. Examining the object of study itself stimulates unanswered questions and offers clues of answers of questions with unparalleled power. Even more important, it’s fun.

None of this kind of learning and scholarship is possible without the conservation of the objects of study. Objects of art, old manuscripts, and old book volumes must be protected. Temperature and humidity can affect their life. Uncontrolled access by those untrained in how to protect old objects can ruin the objects for future generations.

What makes the Booth Family Center so wonderful for Georgetown is that in addition to climate-controlled environments to protect the various objects, the facility contains a high-tech classroom that permits group examination of the objects. The classroom will be the place where students learn to examine the objects in a way that assures their long life and access to researchers of future generations. The facility can be the site where students and faculty interact in original scholarship, with faculty communicating the deep inquiry and intense observation of such objects necessary for insight.

For the areas of inquiry whose raw materials are these objects, this is experiential learning at its best. The students will be using the “real thing” as part of their work; real research skills that can apply to future scholarship will be communicated. To my eyes, the new facility is so attractive as a space that I expect it will breed a new generation of scholars who find it fun to work inside it.

Assessing Scholarship Across Disciplines

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One of the challenges of a modern university is assessing the quality of the scholarship of the faculty. It’s generally agreed that quality of the product of a scholar is a function of the novelty or uniqueness of the work and the impact it has on later research in the field.

There are various complications that arise in assessing the scholarship of faculty. Many of them stem from different intellectual cultures across the disciplines.

Some fields use book-length products as the coin of the realm; others use journal articles of 10-20 printed pages as the basic dissemination device. (Still others use created objects or performances.) As one might imagine, these differences are related to quite different volumes of products across fields. Books take longer to produce on average than an article; so, at any given moment the odds that a faculty member has just produced a book are lower than a faculty member in another discipline producing an article. This complicates the evaluation of a faculty member’s product. In book disciplines, for example, what is to be inferred about the lack of publication for a few years?

Even within the disciplines mainly producing journal articles, there are complicated disciplinary differences. One impact measure commonly used is the number of times an article is cited by other authors in later work. However, fields appear to use citations to earlier work at different frequencies. For example, the average number of citations among economists is 28, but among psychologists is 127. What are bases of those differences? There are a lot of complicated reasons why fields might differ in the degree of citations. For example, much of psychology is an experimental research field; mounting of lab experiments is relatively cheap and fast. The inference from the experiments is that certain causal patterns can occur under the experimental conditions. The cumulative nature of the field depends on the replication and generalizability of the causal discoveries. Hence, the need to cite other related work to build the case that the experimental conditions are generalizable.

Fields also differ on the use of team-based scholarship. Some promote the culture of the lone scholar, with sole authorship dominant. Others do their work in teams, with a division of labor that often represents different specialty knowledge or phases of the research project (design, conduct, and evaluation/analysis). Some fields use very large teams. One of my favorite examples is a physics article in which there were so many authors that the first page of the journal was filled only by the author list! The standards of what constitutes sufficient contribution to merit a co-authorship also varies. Some faculty generously include student assistants as co-authors; others, do not. So, care must be given in assessing the contributions of an individual faculty member to team-based research.

Fields also vary in how contributions are reflected in the order of multiple authors. Many economics articles use the rule that the authors are listed alphabetically; in other fields, some two-person ongoing collaborations routinely rotate the order of authors over repeated articles. Some fields rigidly order by importance of the contribution of the author. Other fields give special meaning to the last person in the author list. Hence, without knowing the cultural norm that dictated the author order, it’s difficult to judge the contribution of a given author.

Finally, fields that are emerging as new knowledge domains have special problems. When they are combinations of existing fields, the scholar faces difficulties getting his/her work “noticed.” For example, in interdisciplinary work combining two fields, the flagship journals of the two different disciplines will rarely highly value such work, viewing it as a mere application of existing knowledge in the field. Only when new journals emerge, fully representing the new interdisciplinary space, can a proper evaluation framework be established. Even then, the readership of the new journals is typically lower than those of established fields.

So, for all the reasons above, evaluating the quality and impact of scholarship doesn’t easily lend itself to simple counting. While within-field quantitative comparisons are often worth making, cross-field comparisons based on counting are error-prone. Because of the diverse cultures of different fields, deep knowledge within the field is required to know what are high quality contributions and what are the best ways to measure the impact of those contributions.

Phrases to Graduates Worth Remembering

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At the end of last week, I attended quite a few commencement events. For the most part, the thunderstorms held off, and most events were held on Healy Lawn. But it was quite hot for many of them, and I sympathized with the black-robed graduates soaking up the hot sun.

I heard many commencement speakers. Each took a different tone, but there were some common thoughts advanced by many:
• The world is increasingly interconnected.
• The world enjoys the benefits of wonderful advances in technology and biomedicine.
• The world is broken, with conflicts proliferating in many countries, producing large numbers of refugees.
• Georgetown’s Jesuit and Catholic values give to the graduates a burden and challenge to address these issues.
There were, however, some memorable thoughts unique to a single speaker, which have, at least in me, generated some reflection.

One speaker, Admiral Thad Allen, a leader in the post-Katrina and BP oil spill disasters’ operations, is a man who has faced the task of helping save and nurture millions of people whose lives were brutally disrupted by natural or man-made disasters. In identifying key personal attributes needed by a 21st century leader, he said that we need the “ability to confront complexity.”

I had not taken confronting complexity as an organizing principle previously, but it instantly had appeal to me. By “complexity” he meant, I believe, that nothing seems to be independently operating these days. Everything is connected to everything else. Solutions to a disaster displacing thousands of persons need a systems’ approach, reflecting that housing, transportation, energy, food, medical care, all need to be coordinated.

But even in non-disaster situations, we’ve learned that problems facing society are complex mixes of human behavior, science, law, markets, ethics, and literature. A great question deduced from this is “What educational experiences best prepare a person to confront complexity?” What are the skills actually needed to diagnose carefully a problem that has many tentacles and to discern how to approach a comprehensive solution? How can one determine what one does not know, and gain the skills to assemble an effective cross-functional team? How does the mission of solving the complex problem stay the focus of the team, despite the need to address diverse sub-issues?

One quickly thinks of the skills that researchers acquire when they are attempting to identify the mechanisms that drive various processes. For example, for reasons important to me at the time, I once concentrated on answering the question of why people agree to comply with the request from a stranger for a task about which they had no experience. That moved me from sociological, to psychological, to linguistic mechanisms that might jointly underlie the behavior. Certainly intense observation of any phenomenon can breed the skill of “confronting complexity.”

One wonders whether there might be an academic course organization that could give students the cognitive skills to diagnose, deconstruct, and find system solutions to complex problems. I suspect many of our courses do so as an auxiliary benefit, but I wonder if there is any merit in creating a unit explicitly focusing on dealing with complexity.

Another comment that sticks in my mind is a quote from John Gardner, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, tackling the social and economic ills connected with the Great Society programs of the Johnson administration. President Degioia echoed Gardner — “What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”

I love the quote.

It is a fitting companion to the observations of the complexity of problems facing our world. The quote itself has the power of refocusing our attention. Who among us has the right to label a problem as “insoluble?” Why can’t we reframe the issues? Why can’t we challenge the traditional approaches that have failed in the past? Why can’t we employ completely different solutions? Can we combine one “insoluble problem” with another to motivate a completely different approach? Why, indeed, do we accept the labeling of a problem as “insoluble?”

Breathtaking opportunities instead of insoluble problems.

“Breathtaking opportunities” was an apt phrase to deliver to a set of new graduates ready (I hope) to confront the intense complexities of the problems facing our world.

Getting Ready for the End

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It’s a very interesting time on the Georgetown campus.

Most students have left campus. They’ve finished their exams and have turned in their final papers. I see them pushing big carts of possessions across campus. Many have pulled their roller bags and carried their duffel bags to waiting cabs and shuttles.

The work of the faculty jumps up just as the students vacate. Faculty have sequestered themselves away, grading the tests, reading and commenting on the final papers. Then they incur the labor of assigning and turning in final course grades.

In the last few days, the campus has undergone a physical transformation. During study days and exam time, the library and every nook and cranny of the campus were filled with students studying. Those spaces now seem empty, like an airport in the wee hours of the morning. The rooms look lonely, missing the hubbub and energy of students. It’s all interim, a time between two realities.

The campus never looked better. Some of the beauty is the natural effect of the launch of spring — flowering bushes and trees, begonias, and intensely green new leaves. The smells are different — fragrances of flowers all mixed together, fresh earth turned over, and at little pollen too. Some of the beauty results from new paint on lampposts, benches, doors, and walkways. Some of it results from new sod planted on bare areas.

Of course, the sunshine and warm weather enhance the feel of the campus. People seem more relaxed, taking quick moments to took at flowers and trees. The students who are still around seem to be playing Frisbee on the Copley Lawn and lying on blankets talking.

With each passing day, I see more triplets of parents and graduates, walking around campus, taking photos of themselves in front of iconic sights. A lot of laughter can be heard as they walk, and signs of pride are obvious in the parents.

There are white reception tents arising each day across the Hilltop. The place has the look of preparation for a fancy wedding. Today, all the chairs have been set up on Healy Lawn, facing the stage on which faculty and administrators will sit during commencement ceremonies. Those involved in the complicated logistics required to conduct the ceremonies are looking at the weather forecast repeatedly throughout the day (so far, so good).

All of this is in preparation for the end of Georgetown programs on the part of the graduates. I’ve talked with many. Many have deeply mixed emotions. They’re elated that they successfully completed their degrees. But they will miss their time on campus; they’ll miss their compatriots in their programs.

It’s the end, but, as every commencement speaker will remind them, it’s also a beginning. For this, students have understandable anxieties about what the future will bring. This is the excitement of launching a new phase of life for which they hope Georgetown has prepared them.

There are few times during the year when all the purposes of the campus seem to converge so clearly. Nothing better.

Relative Deprivation

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In the middle of 20th century, Robert Merton described a social psychological construct concerning the comparison of one’s own status and that of relevant others. He observed that, even in groups with very large resources, those within the group who believed they were less well-off felt “second-class,” unsuccessful, and deprived of full acknowledgement of their value. This was the notion of “relative deprivation.” Even if you own a yacht, someone has a bigger yacht.

My job and my various obligations often place me in discussions about the future of higher education and research. For example, during my tenure at the National Science Board, overseeing the National Science Foundation, considerable discussion has been spent on communicating the importance of basic research in the sciences. By “basic” is meant research about fundamental building blocks of a field, regardless of whether the knowledge yields practical benefits or applications. (In one of our meetings, there was a report of a focus group of the general public who reacted that the US shouldn’t be funding “basic science”; it should be funding really “sophisticated” science. Clearly, there are communication problems.)

There is a growing fear among scientists in biology, physics, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, etc., that advances in these fields are being inhibited by lack of Federal government research funding. Instead, those fields that produce technologies with more immediate application to everyday life seem to enjoy more support. The scientists involved in basic research note that many of today’s technologies are completely dependent on discoveries that were made decades ago, within basic science. They fear that a focus on short-run gains by technology-related research misses the value of basic science. In short, researchers in basic science feel threatened.

In an unrelated set of activities, I’ve found myself in discussions about the relevance and long-run sustainability of the social sciences in the country. Participants in these discussions note that findings in social science research are relevant to many of pressing problems of today. For example, while we have some understanding of the chemistry and biology of environmental damage, environmental progress requires human interaction with the natural world. But there seem to be disconnects in getting social scientists active in environmental research. On another front, social scientists complain about the increasing analysis of “big data” by mathematicians and computer scientists, who appear not to have learned the key issues of measurement of human thought and behavior, and who, in the opinion of the social scientists, are not sensitive to data quality. They feel that quick analyses of big data may be flashy, but that long run progress requires social science content and computation. In short, the social sciences feel threatened.

When I’m back on the Georgetown campus, I’m spending my time talking with humanists and learning about fears of diminished support for the humanities. We all read comments from political figures who question the value of undergraduate education in the humanities. We listen when one says “But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree. Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree — I love art history.” Those comments occur simultaneously while cuts in Federal government funding of the arts reach a several decade trend. This does not encourage a culture of optimism for the future within the humanities faculty. In short, the humanities feel threatened.

Finally, I was at a national meeting of scholars, and we discussed the massive decline in state legislature funding of state universities. Since the 2007-2008 academic year, funding is down over 20% per student. Propelled by the land-grant state universities founded in the middle of the 19th century, the United States built a population of strong state-supported research universities. Together with private universities they arguably form the most important strategic resource of the society, a veritable engine of knowledge production and innovation. Together they are a magnet for the brightest, most ambitious students in the world to come to the United States, assuring both constant supply of new talent and, for those who return, leaders of countries who understand the culture of the United States. It’s difficult to imagine a more valuable resource in an increasingly connected world. However, with each cut in state funding, the ecology of US universities is being diminished. The universities raise their tuitions; with each increase in tuition, access to higher education becomes more restrictive.

Thus, each of the groups on university campuses — the scientists, the social scientists, and the humanists — feel threatened. The threats are real. But when the groups restrict their attention to their local campus environment, it’s easy for them to feel threatened by each other. Are they getting their fair share of the campus pie? Is their unit receiving the attention by campus leadership that reflects their threatened status? The real question, as the observations above suggest, is whether the whole campus pie is becoming too small. Further, has the country lost the belief that institutions of higher education are capital investments in the future strength of the country? Instead, is higher education viewed only as a personal service to be purchased, with the sole relevant criterion being lifetime earnings return on investment?

In short, the common enemy of the scientists, the social scientists, and the humanists is the lack of understanding of the role of higher education in building a strong, respectful, just, and innovative society. Hence, this generation of academic faculty has been given another burden — communicating as widely as possible the importance of higher education to a strong future of the country. This is a challenge to us all, but one that is crucial to the country’s future.

Renewal in Doha

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Last week, we announced a renewal of the partnership between the Qatar Foundation and Georgetown University. This partnership, which started in 2005, successfully built the School of Foreign Service in Qatar in Doha, Qatar. The Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) program is one program among many at Education City, an invention of the Qatar Foundation.

At Education City, students can pursue journalism and communications degrees from Northwestern, medical degrees from Cornell, engineering degrees from Texas A&M, art and design degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, archaeology and museum studies degrees from University College London, biological sciences, computer science and business degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University, and an executive MBA from HEC-Paris. As a totality, Education City is a key tool in building a research and education-based society in the coming decades in Qatar.

From all indications, the work of our colleagues in Doha and the leadership and faculty of the SFS in Washington are greatly appreciated. Graduates of the BSFS program in Qatar already provide leadership in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other key institutions and businesses in the country. All the signs indicate that the campus has achieved its original goals.

The new agreement provides for a continuation and expansion of the size of the student body for the BSFS program. It also seeks more activity on the part of Georgetown. The Qatar Foundation appreciates the outreach to the wider society in Qatar through community activities, the training of employed staff in ministries, and the service activities of students, faculty, and staff to the Doha community. It wants us to expand these services to the Qatari society.

The agreement also lays the groundwork for new educational programs through our campus there. These already include programs in sports management, through the School of Continuing Studies. They will include executive education in leadership and related skills through the McDonough School of Business.

The Qatar Foundation is launching a related institution, Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), which will concentrate on graduate programs. Our faculty in Doha already contribute to a mid-career Master’s program in Energy and Resources, along with Texas A&M and HEC-Paris. There are future possibilities of collaborating with other branch campuses in joint programs, which could take advantage of complementary strengths in the various campuses. Other Master’s programs, joint with HBKU, are possible.

In a real sense, the new agreement seeks to build on the success of the School of Foreign Service in Qatar to create a larger set of educational programs — a Georgetown in Qatar.

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI urged the Jesuits to go to the frontiers to do their work. The Doha campus of Georgetown was launched in a society that is undergoing dramatic change. While the country is one of the richest in the world, it is a culture quite different from that which spawned Georgetown. Thus, it is a cultural frontier that requires planful translation of US elite higher education programs.

We have successfully imported a strong academic program. We have recruited a global student body and an international faculty. We are now called on to do more. With the new agreement we have an opportunity to expand this example of working at the frontiers.

Office of the ProvostBox 571014 650 ICC37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington D.C. 20057Phone: (202) 687.6400Fax: (202)

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