Is academic life changing?

Here’s Mason’s provost, Peter Stearns, on the matter. My own sense is that he’s spot on. Even in the comparatively secure hard sciences, the “social contract” between institution and faculty is undergoing an evolution.

A caution however: one of the US’s enduring competitive advantages has been its ability to attract top flight scientists from all over the world. The perception that either tenure or research support is being eroded will not help, especially in a global environment where countries like China and Singapore are pouring massive amounts of money to bring the best and the brightest to their own shores.

Back from Research Triangle

In spite of challenging weather, I had a most interesting visit to Burroughs Wellcome Fund yesterday. I learned about some very interesting STEM education approaches and a very similar interest in success stories in Finland and Singapore.

It’s clear to me that the education puzzle is central to future US economic prosperity.  My sense is that there is even national consensus on this. The devil is in the details in this case and learning what has worked for other countries is an excellent first step towards reform here.

In Finland, for example, the requirement for all K-12 teachers to earn a masters degree with a mix of pedagogy and research is admirable. But that’s for a population of 5.4 million. That simply may not be possible here in the US with a population of 300+ million. But the underlying idea of attracting the very best and the brightest to education does make sense.

So good first steps. It will be interesting to see what evolves here in the US.