Skip to content
A collection of thoughts and ideas
A collection of thoughts

What's the point of higher ed?

Why go to university? What's the point of being in one place for +3 years to study something that you might not enjoy in 5 or 10 years?
Asked differently: What is the value of universities for society? A lot of the discussion about universities and degrees are myopic, only looking about the teaching part and asking if universities are doing a good job preparing people for their jobs. But universities are more than a place for transmitting knowledge from experts to novices.
Universities are
a place to grow and develop your identity
a place to experiment and discover new knowledge
an employer - not just for academics
a place for expressing opinions
a place where different opinions can clash
a place to wonder around (physically)
an organization that preserves old buildings
the door for new opportunities
a meeting place for people and ideas

In my opinion, universities are not about teaching or research. Universities are about experimenting and discovery.
For people to experiment and discovery they need a number of things:
Financial freedom: You can't experiment if you are worried about not being able to pay your bill. The risk of failure is too high
Mental freedom: You can't experiment if you are worried about being ridiculed or dismissed or worse. The risk of speaking up is too high
People: You can't experiment if you are alone. You are not pushed outside your comfort zone. No one is shining a light on your blind spot.

I like the way . Universities are in the business of meaning making. We need collaborative processes and a mesh structure. Everyone is a developer and user of knowledge.
Load content from
Loading external content may reveal information to 3rd parties. Learn more
video of TedTalk:
Want to print your doc?
This is not the way.
Try clicking the ⋯ next to your doc name or using a keyboard shortcut (
) instead.