Reviewing the Duke Forward website, home base for Duke’s $3.25 billion capital campaign, I was most struck by two statements:
But we cannot be satisfied with methods of teaching, or learning, that were born out of different needs and different realities. In a world where technology is reshaping the very definitions of communication, education, and knowledge, universities must adapt, preserving the best of our traditions but also transforming inherited approaches to education and research to meet today’s challenges.
The university of the future will be defined as much by collaboration as it is by individual accomplishment, and as much by the opportunity to engage with problems as it is by the accumulation of knowledge.Deeply constructive partnerships across areas of expertise, between researchers and practitioners, and among students and faculty of diverse perspectives must be the norm rather than the exception.
In such an environment, the walls are low and the aspirations high, the solutions nimble and the breakthroughs profound. (emphasis added)
Through the campaign, we’re seeking support to strengthen curricular and co-curricular programs that give students throughout Duke’s 10 schools the opportunity to develop their talents by solving real problems. (emphasis added)
– from Boundaries Not Included page
If schools declare that we work to prepare students for college and for life, then how are we studying and implementing such innovations ourselves? How are we lowering walls, crossing borders and boundaries of subject and expertise, and engaging real-life problems?
What if a content-centric curriculum and silo-ed departments and walled philosophies disadvantage student and faculty learners for the future at our doorsteps?
[Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a Blue Devil, undergraduate class of 1993. Duke was the only undergraduate school to which I applied because it was the only place I wanted to go since I was 7 years old. Go Duke!
Of course, I would love to see Duke’s “pedagogical master plan” for all of this – those plans with the equivalent, intricate detail of analogous architectural plans and engineering schema.]