Author: John W. Moravec, Ph.D.
Doctoral dissertation (2007)
Format: PDF download
The convergence of globalization, emergence of the knowledge society and accelerating change contribute to what might be best termed a New Paradigm of knowledge production in higher education. The New Paradigm reflects the emerging shifts in thought, beliefs, priorities and practice in regard to education in society. These new patterns of thought and belief are forming to harness and manage the chaos, indeterminacy, and complex relationships of the postmodern.
This future-oriented, multiple-methods study identifies potential futures for higher education and their related implications, consequences and policy actions in regard to the New Paradigm of knowledge production. In the first phase of the study, a review of the relevant literature qualitatively scanned for trends in higher education and identified profound statements on the long-term futures of higher education in the United States, and globally, related to the three driving trends of the New Paradigm.
Data generated in the first phase were developed into a set of statements and inputted into a Delphi questionnaire instrument. An expert group of 20 Minnesota college and university presidents (or their designates) comprised this study’s Delphi panel in the study’s second phase, which determined the level of importance, level of acceptability and possibility of occurrence for each item identified by the literature review’s scan of the environment of higher education. Following the quantitative analysis of these three measurements for each questionnaire item over two Delphi rounds, where group consensus emerged, each panelist was asked to provide qualitative statements on implications for their institution, policy actions, how to improve the likelihood of preferred futures, and the potential for competing institutions to lead in least preferred futures. Content analysis of the response set in the study’s third phase revealed ten thematic categories for implications and policy actions for higher education given the futures identified in the first two rounds of the Delphi process. The findings suggest higher education leaders need to integrate the concept of accelerating change of the New Paradigm into their thinking and leadership practices and further align their activities to succeed in an era of accelerating change, chaos and ambiguity.
This research helps to better inform the practices of leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders in Minnesota higher education and beyond. This study concludes with a note that through action on the findings and the feedback-looped, reflective consideration of policy actions, this study provides for the possibility of better informed and more future-oriented praxis by the higher education leaders who participated.