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ERIC Number: EJ985124
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Apr-30
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
University Communities and the Next American Upgrade
Levin, Blair
New England Journal of Higher Education, Apr 2012
Knowledge is humanity's first and final frontier. From the Edenic exodus to flights beyond earth, mythic narratives reveal that going where no one has gone before to learn what no one has known before drives people like no other quest. That quest, for many millennium largely driven by spiritual needs, has become core to economic and social progress. Knowledge exchange has been a critical catalyst to improving how people work and live. In the last century, the U.S. exploited its leadership in knowledge exchange--headquartered in institutions of higher education--to grow its world-leading economy. That economic leadership is under threat but, as they have been in the past, university communities can provide the springboard for a new generation of American economic leadership. In many respects, the U.S. is well positioned. It is without peer in launching the iconic global companies that deliver that economy's building blocks, from chips, to network infrastructure, to software, to applications, to device design and integration. Much of its leadership stems from being the Internet's birthplace. As the U.S. led the world in every relevant sector in the early days, Americans developed an ecosystem in which improvements in their networks drove improvements in applications, which drove improvements in devices, which, in turn, drove improvements in networks. This created a virtuous cycle into which they created the best human capital for innovating within what has become the broadband ecosystem. Future leadership, however, is not assured. While American innovation in chips, operating systems and applications continues, the U.S. doesn't enjoy leadership in the underlying bandwidth that fuels this virtuous cycle. No single metric captures the situation fairly, but all suggest danger ahead. The beauty of an economy whose growth is based on greater knowledge is that, unlike one based on materials extraction, its prospects are as limitless as the mythic frontier. In such an economy, the nation's greatest assets are the institutions of higher education. Thus, while it is often said, it is not said nearly enough that U.S. institutions of higher education are the envy of the world. Anyone who hopes that America's economic success in the 20th century is repeated in the 21st, should hope U.S. higher education remains the object of envy. But for the sake of most Americans, U.S. should also want the world to envy its bandwidth and what happens when it puts the world-leading tools for high-performance knowledge exchange in its world-leading university communities.
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States