Sustainable Capitalism in Education

By Anoop Verma, Elets News Network (ENN)

The investments, even those with so-called profit motive, being made in the education space can be seen as echoing Aesop’s classic fable. After all, the money that goes into education also serves the purpose of protecting the future flow of golden eggs by taking better care of the goose that lays them. This is what the concept of “Sustainable capitalism,” is all about.
The investor forgoes current consumption in order to invest for future returns, not only for himself, but also for the society in general. Theoretically, this is a capitalist virtue. “Short-termism” or what someone might call investment myopia is not a possibility in the education space. Investments made in education usually have a high gestation period; it takes significant about of time before the investment start yielding returns.
The investment angles
Investors are typical moving away from the beaten path while picking up stakes in new or established companies in the education space. In February this year, Dubai-based Varkey Group has increased its stake y to 38.12 percent in Everonn Education. The Varkey Group has also appointed Rakesh Sharma and Dino Varkey as directors on the board.
In a filing with BSE, Everonn said, “Varkey Group has been allotted 2,618,120 shares of Everonn Education through preferential allotment at a price of Rs 528 per share, aggregating to 12 per cent of the post preferential issuance equity capital.” The investment community is of the opinion that the education companies have good long term potential. This why competition seems to be heating up for education companies in India.
Few months back we had the news of Infotel Broadband, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, acquiring 38.5 percent stake in Extramarks Education, a company focused on school education and digital learning, for an undisclosed amount. The statement from RIL declared that the investment in Extramarks had been made through an affiliate company Reliance Strategic Investments.
RIL’s investments in Extramarks are in no way altruistic. The investment has been made with the strategic aim of creating content related value for Infotel, which is the only company in India to have bandwidth for high-speed wireless broadband service across the country. In the mid-2010 auction, Infotel had won spectrum for an approximate cost of 13,000 crores.
But let us see this investment from the point of view of what it might achieve for our educational system. Quality educational content and services will become available to students and teachers through high speed 4G networks. The Extramarks investment might spur similar investments by other telecom service providers leading to a tariff war in the data services industry for education. The ultimate beneficiary of such a tariff war will not be the private companies; it will be the community of students and teachers are going to be the big gainers.
The time of start-ups!
The investments in the education space are flowing in large and small amounts. Few weeks back a technology start-up Carveniche, which has been founded by Infosys engineers Avneet Makkar and Saraswathy A, secured angel funding from Mumbai Angels. Carveniche is in the business of providing content based products and services to schools in the country. It is leveraging cloud technology for delivery of content. We are also having rumours of Mumbai Angels investing in few other start-ups in education.
The company called Edusys was launched in 2004 and it already boasts of a customer base of more than 3,500 companies globally. It supports students in 150 countries and offers courses and tests that span a vast spectrum of conventional and emerging domains of learning and work. The company’s offices are located in USA, UK, Singapore and Australia besides Bangalore and Bhubaneshwar.
In February, Edusys raised $7.5 million (approximately Rs 38 crore) from Sequoia Capital. With this round of funding, Edusys aims to expand its business by introducing new products and strengthening its core team and technology platform. The founder and CEO of the company, Tridibesh Satpathy, says, “The certification market is a $48 billion global industry and we see tremendous opportunity for growth.” According to sources, company is planning to double its workforce next year.
Even websites that are remotely linked to the field of education are catching the eye of the investment community. The Delhi based boutique investment firm, VAS Capital has made an investment in AM Edumedia Pvt Ltd, which runs, which is a website devoted to helping students pick the right engineering colleges among thousands. The was launched only in April 2010, and as of now the company records more than 50,000 searches per month on the site.
CL Educate, which was formerly known as Career Launcher, has acquired G.K. Publications, which is a publishing house that specialises in career and academic test preparation and skill building resources.
The tablet syndrome
New technological trends like tablets are also becoming a vehicle for investments to flow into the education sector. The government of India has launched the ambitious scheme to empower students with handheld devices like Aakash tablet PC. Perhaps the tablet that finally comes into the hands of our students will be more advanced than the initial version of Aakash.
The Union Minister for Human Resource and Development, Kapil Sibal has stated that an improved version of the Aakash tablet is being planned. The tender from government could be of around 50 lakh Tablet PCs for students. The tender is expected to be out in two months of time. This kind of large order for Table PCs, will certainly lead to large investments flowing into the educational devices space. Many major companies will start eying for a slice of the market. That is already happening as RIL is rumoured to have teamed up with a major Chinese device maker to procure low cost tablets in the 4G space.
On an international level the launch of Apple’s iBooks has received lot of attention. The product is aimed at reinventing the textbook. Instead of a bagful of books, students will be using tablets powered with Apple’s iBooks system. The platform embraces interactive textbooks. Students can pinch to zoom on DNA strands, watch videos on mysterious of outer space and they can experience learning in an interactive fashion. The words are still there. iBooks simply serves the purpose of making learning a bit more exciting.
Apple is yet to reveal the exact investments that the company intends to make in the iBooks section. But it is going to be substantial. As Apple has teamed up with publishing partners Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, and McGraw Hill, there is scope lot of interesting investment ideas to emerge.

Shamshad Akhtar, Vice-president for the Mid East and N. Africa region World Bank (video)

Shamshad Akhtar discusses how achieving quality education is a major challenge in the Arab world. She explains that the World Bank provides financial and advisory support in order to optimise economic returns. She identifies the value of implementing international best practices for effective education transformation, confirming that the colloquium facilitated valuable insights in this regard from Ireland, Poland, Mexico and Finland. She mentions the need to adopt effective assessment systems and for the importance of strong political leadership to provide concensus regarding education. 

British Council calls on Arab World at TESOL to keep fingers on pulse of changes, needs and opportunities in the field of English.

English learners in the MENA region to reach 20 million by 2015 targets British Council British Council calls on Arab World at TESOL to keep fingers on pulse of changes, needs and opportunities in the field of English British Council is targeting 20 million English learners by year 2015.

This was recently announced by the British Council during the 18th annual TESOL Arabia the region’s largest English Foreign Language (EFL) conference hosted at Dubai Women’s College. “British Council has partnered with TESOL Arabia, which shares our goals of helping develop English language teaching skills of teachers in the Middle East”, stated Nic Humphries, Director English, Middle East and North Africa, British Council. “For almost 75 years, British Council has been teaching English to students and working with EFL teachers to build capacity, improve skills, and enhance cultural dialogue between the UK and the Middle East and North Africa region.
“With growing internet penetration and digital resources, British Council aims to reach 20 million English learners in the next three years,” stated Humphries. The combination of web-based tools, social media and mobile technology offers an unprecedented opportunity to bring English to tens of millions of students and teachers who consider English an essential skill to secure better educational or professional opportunities,” “Over the last few years, British Council has introduced proprietary web-based tools that tap into some of the most powerful channels of communication to hone people’s skills in an environment that is increasingly driven by English. All these services have been designed to enable every teacher and learner of English to have access to high quality resources from the UK, said Humphries”. According to British Council, social media is increasingly becoming more significant in the field of teaching and learning English. “Students and teachers are looking to connect with British Council and each other to seek advice, discuss issues, or simply share experiences,” said Humphries. “The social media element of British Council’s English offer allows us to keep its finger on the pulse of changes, needs and opportunities in the field of English language teaching.” British Council MENA’s English Facebook page, ‘Go4English’ has jumped over 200% in membership in less than 18 months and boasts over 500,000 members.

Humphries explained, “Go4English is targeting English learners, and it’s live and buzzing with ongoing activity like competition, discussions and exercises. On top of all this, an experienced and qualified English teacher is available to answer questions and provide assistance outside the classroom. Our page has brought teachers and students on a common platform to benefit from each other.” In addition to students, British Council is has also turned its attention to English teacher training. At TESOL 2012, British Council introduced a range of new digital English teaching products. “In order to reach our goal of 20 million by 2015, it is essential to have enough qualified English language teachers to meet the growing needs of EFL students,” commented Humphries. “This year, British Council has introduced a wide range of online teacher training programmes and courses that will help teachers develop their skills and key points during their teaching careers. Humphries added: “This is anywhere-anytime training, with affordability as another significant benefit. The courses are effective, and British Council certification means that they are internationally recognised.” British Council has also untilized Facebook to draw teachers to its ‘TeachingEnglish’ page, which is a spin-off to the popular English Language Teaching Professionals Network (ELTPN), which currently has over 150,000 teachers from across the MENA region. “Our ‘TeachingEnglish’ Facebook page is a forum where teachers are actively discussing issues and challenges facing them and their students in the region and around the world. Additionally, teachers from across the MENA region and UK are interacting to share best practices and the latest in teaching, training and tools,” explained Humphries. “We have noticed that our private and government partners in the region are taking notice of the dialogue and are responding with interest
. -Ends-

Higher Education – Global Citizenship?

Global Citizenship – What Are We Talking About and Why Does It Matter?:
Editor’s note: This guest entry was written by Madeleine F. Green, a Senior Fellow at NAFSA and the International Association of Universities. It was originally published in NAFSA’s newish Trends & Insights series of short online article that are “designed to highlight social, economic, political and higher education system trends affecting international higher education.” Our thanks to Madeleine and NAFSA for permission to post her fascinating entry here (which is also available as a PDF via this link). Kris Olds

During the past decade higher education’s interest in internationalization has intensified, and the concept of civic education or engagement has broadened from a national focus to a more global one, thus expanding the concept that civic responsibility extends beyond national borders.
As Schattle (2009) points out, the concept of global citizenship is not a new one; it can be traced back to ancient Greece. But the concept and the term seem to have new currency and are now widely used in higher education. Many institutions cite global citizenship in their mission statements and/or as an outcome of liberal education and internationalization efforts. Many have “centers for global citizenship” or programs with this label.
Additionally, national and international organizations and networks have devoted themselves to helping institutions promote global citizenship, although they do not necessarily use that term. For example, the Association of American Colleges and Universities sponsors a series of programs concerned with civic learning, a broad concept that includes several goals for undergraduate education: strengthening U.S. democracy, preparing globally responsible citizenry, developing personal and social responsibility, and promoting global learning and diversity. The Salzburg Seminar’s International Study Program provides week-long workshops for faculty to consider the concepts of global citizenship and their integration into undergraduate education. It also provides college students with programs on global issues. The Talloires Network is an international alliance formed in 2005 that includes 202 institutions in 58 countries “devoted to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education.” The Talloires declaration refers specifically to “preparing students to contribute positively to local, national, and global communities.” Founded in 1985, the oldest of these networks, Campus Compact, retains its predominant, but not exclusive, focus on the United States.
Defining Global Citizenship
A foray into the literature or a look at the many ways colleges and universities talk about global citizenship reveals how broad a concept it is and how different the emphasis can be depending on who uses the term. This essay can only outline a few important elements of global citizenship, but a brief overview of the many meanings should help institutions formulate or clarify their own definition of it, identify those elements that are central to their educational vision, and add other dimensions. The following are among the most salient features of global citizenship (this section draws from a variety of sources but primarily relies on Schattle (2007)).
Global citizenship as a choice and a way of thinking. National citizenship is an accident of birth; global citizenship is different. It is a voluntary association with a concept that signifies “ways of thinking and living within multiple cross-cutting communities—cities, regions, states, nations, and international collectives…” (Schattle 2007, 9). People come to consider themselves as global citizens through different formative life experiences and have different interpretations of what it means to them. The practice of global citizenship is, for many, exercised primarily at home, through engagement in global issues or with different cultures in a local setting. For others, global citizenship means firsthand experience with different countries, peoples, and cultures. For most, there exists a connection between the global and the local. Whatever an individual’s particular “take” on global citizenship may be, that person makes a choice in whether or how to practice it.
Global citizenship as self-awareness and awareness of others. As one international educator put it, it is difficult to teach intercultural understanding to students who are unaware they, too, live in a culture that colors their perceptions. Thus, awareness of the world around each student begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness also enables students to identify with the universalities of the human experience, thus increasing their identification with fellow human beings and their sense of responsibility toward them.
Global citizenship as they practice cultural empathy. Cultural empathy or intercultural competence is commonly articulated as a goal of global education, and there is significant literature on these topics. Intercultural competence occupies a central position in higher education’s thinking about global citizenship and is seen as an important skill in the workplace. There are more than 30 instruments or inventories to assess intercultural competence. Cultural empathy helps people see questions from multiple perspectives and move deftly among cultures—sometimes navigating their own multiple cultural identities, sometimes moving out to experience unfamiliar cultures.
Global citizenship as the cultivation of principled decisionmaking. Global citizenship entails an awareness of the interdependence of individuals and systems and a sense of responsibility that follows from it. Navigating “the treacherous waters of our epic interdependence (Altinay 2010, 4) requires a set of guiding principles that will shape ethical and fair responses. Although the goal of undergraduate education should not be to impose a “correct” set of answers, critical thinking, cultural empathy, and ethical systems and choices are an essential foundation to principled decisionmaking.
Global citizenship as participation in the social and political life of one’s community. There are many different types of communities, from the local to the global, from religious to political groups. Global citizens feel a connection to their communities (however they define them) and translate that sense of connection into participation. Participation can take the form of making responsible personal choices (such as limiting fossil fuel consumption), voting, volunteering, advocacy, and political activism. The issues may include the environment, poverty, trade, health, and human rights. Participation is the action dimension of global citizenship.
Why Does Global Citizenship Matter?
The preceding list could be much longer and more detailed; global citizenship covers a lot of ground. Thus, it is useful to consider the term global citizenship as shorthand for the habits of mind and complex learning associated with global education. The concept is useful and important in several respects.
First, a focus on global citizenship puts the spotlight on why internationalization is central to a quality education and emphasizes that internationalization is a means, not an end. Serious consideration of the goals of internationalization makes student learning the key concern rather than counting inputs.
Second, the benefits of encouraging students to consider their responsibilities to their communities and to the world redound to them, institutions, and society. As Altinay (2010, 1) put it, “a university education which does not provide effective tools and forums for students to think through their responsibilities and rights as one of the several billions on planet Earth, and along the way develop their moral compass, would be a failure.” Strengthening institutional commitment to serving society enriches the institution, affirms its relevance and contributions to society, and benefits communities (however expansive the definition) and the lives of their members.
Third, the concept of global citizenship creates conceptual and practical connections rather than cleavages. The commonalities between what happens at home and “over there” become visible. The characteristics that human beings share are balanced against the differences that are so conspicuous. On a practical level, global citizenship provides a concept that can create bridges between the work of internationalization and multicultural education. Although these efforts have different histories and trajectories, they also share important goals of cultural empathy and intercultural competence (Olson et al. 2007).
No concept or term is trouble-free; no idea goes uncontested by some faculty member or group. For better or for worse, global citizenship will undoubtedly provoke disagreements that reflect larger academic and philosophical debates. There is plenty of skepticism about global citizenship. Some object to any concept that suggests a diminished role for the nation and allegiance to it or the ascendancy of global governance systems. The idea of developing students’ moral compasses can raise questions about whose values and morals and how institutions undertake this delicate task. Some students will choose not to accept responsibility for the fate of others far away, or may see inequality as an irremediable fact of life. Some faculty will stand by the efficacy and wisdom of the market; others will see redressing inequality as the key issue for the future of humankind. And so on.
Such debates, sometimes civil or acrimonious, are, for better or worse, the stuff of academe. Implementing new ideas—even if they have been around for a very long time as in the case of global citizenship—can be slow and painful. However, if colleges and universities can produce graduates with the knowledge and the disposition to be global citizens, the world would certainly be a better place.
Madeleine F. Green

Box 1 — Conceptual Divides
What was once simply called “international education” is now a field awash with varied terminology, different conceptual frameworks, goals, and underlying assumptions.*
Although “internationalization” is widely used, many use globalization—with all its different definitions and connotations— in its stead. Rather than take on the job of sorting out the terminology, let me point out two significant conceptual divides in the conversation. Both center on the purpose of internationalization.
In the first divide, we see one face of internationalization as referring to a series of activities closely associated with institutional prestige, profile, and revenue. These activities are generally quantifiable, lend themselves to institutional comparisons and benchmarking, and provide metrics for internationalization performance that resonate with trustees and presidents. Examples include hosting international students, sending students abroad, developing international agreements, and delivering programs abroad.
The other face of internationalization—student learning— is much more difficult to capture and assess, but it provides an important answer to the “so what?” question. Why does internationalization matter? What impact do internationalization activities have on student learning? How do they contribute to preparing students to live and work in a globalized and culturally diverse world?
Different terms with overlapping meanings are used to describe the student learning dimension of internationalization. Global learning, global education, and global competence are familiar terms; they, too, are often used synonymously. The global in all three terms often includes the concepts of international (between and among nations), global (transcending national borders), and intercultural (referring often to cultural differences at home and around the world).
Also prevalent in the student learning discussion is another cluster of terms that focus specifically on deepening students’ understanding of global issues and interdependence, and encouraging them to engage socially and politically to address societal issues. These terms include global citizenship, world citizenship (Nussbaum 1997), civic learning, civic engagement, and global civics (Altinay 2010). These terms, too, share several key concepts, and are often used interchangeably.
The second divide focuses on the divergent, but not incompatible goals of workforce development (developing workers to compete in the global marketplace) or as a means of social development (developing globally competent citizens.) Global competitiveness is primarily associated with mastery of math, science, technology, and occasionally language competence, whereas “global competence” (a broad term, to be sure), puts greater emphasis on intercultural understanding and knowledge of global systems and issues, culture, and language.
As the field grows increasingly complex and the instrumental goals of internationalization become more prominent, it is important that campus discussions and planning efforts sort out their language, underlying concepts, and implied or explicit values. Otherwise, people run the risk of talking past each other and developing strategies that may not match their goals.

*It is important for U.S. readers to note that the goals of and assumptions about internationalization vary widely around the world. The Third Global Survey of Internationalization conducted by the International Association of Universities found that there are divergent views among institutions in different regions of the risks and benefits of internationalizations. Based on their findings, IAU has launched an initiative to take a fresh look at internationalization from a global perspective.
Altinay, Hakan. “The Case for Global Civics.” Global Economy and Development Working Paper 35, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, 2010.
Nussbaum, Martha. 1997. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.
Olson, Christa, Rhodri Evans, and Robert Shoenberg. 2007. At Home in the World: Bridging the Gap Between Internationalization and Multi-Cultural Education. Washington DC: American Council on Education.
Schattle, Hans. 2007. The Practices of Global Citizenship . Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Schattle, Hans. 2009. “Global Citizenship in Theory and Practice.” In The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad:Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship, ed. R. Lewin. New York: Routledge.

Her Majesty Queen Rania on Education in the Arab World (video in Arabic)

Her Majesty Queen Rania gives an interview to MBC on the sidelines of the UNESCO’s launch of the Arabic edition of their Education for All Global Monitoring Report, with this years focus on the theme of “The hidden crisis of armed conflict and education”

جلالة الملكة رانيا العبدالله في مقابلة مع فضائية الإم بي سي على هامش إطلاق النسخة العربية لتقرير اليونسكو لرصد التعليم للجميع الذي صدر هذا العام تحت عنوان “الأزمة الخفية: النزاعات المسلحة والتعليم”.

Teaching and Learning in the Arab World (video from Columbia University)

The presidents of four American Universities (Cairo, Lebanese, Sharjah and Beirut) discuss the collective experience of their schools

– President David Arnold, The American University of Cairo
– President Joseph Jabbra, Lebanese American University
– Chancellor Winfred Thompson, American University of Sharjah
– President John Waterbury, American University of Beirut
– Lisa Anderson, dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs

Mar 30, 2007 at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

Esmod Dubai perfume discovery course

Esmod Dubai perfume discovery course students to create personalised fragrance presented in 30ml bottle  
New session of short course begins April 2
March 4, 2012
Esmod Dubai, the only French institute fully dedicated to fashion in the region, has announced that the next session of its widely popular perfume discovery short course begins on April 2, 2012. Esmod Dubai has introduced a new facet to the upcoming session, wherein students will have an opportunity to create their own distinct fragrance that will be presented in a 30ml bottle bearing their name.

The month-long ‘Perfume Discovery’ sessions will introduce participants to an ‘Olfactorium,’ a compact version of a perfumer palette. The course will teach the basics of perfume creation and help students create their own fragrance, reflecting their individual preferences, in coordination with the institute’s laboratory. 
Tamara Hostal, Director and Founder, Esmod Dubai, said, “The underlining objective of this course is to enhance the skills of those involved in the perfume industry, a field where there is a definite dearth of professionals. Moreover, we have designed the course structure to bring out the inherent creativity and skills of the participants, especially by giving them a chance to create a fragrance of their own, representing their distinct individuality and tastes with regard to perfumes. Importantly, the fact that they get to take with them a personalised bottle of their own fragrance means that they will be able to proudly share their creation with friends and family.”     
Perfume Discovery especially targets the fast-growing perfume industry, as companies in this sector can send their employees for training. Moreover, all women who are involved with the sale of perfumes or who are part of the fashion world where a solid background in perfumery is a must could significantly benefit from this course.
For more info:
DNA Communications        
P.O. Box 191117
Dubai, UAE
Tel.: 04 3988490
Fax: 04 3988491

Unsettling the university-territory relationship via Applied Sciences NYC

The unruly process of ‘innovation’ has long stumped analysts and advocates. Indeed, there is a veritable cottage industry of scholars who work on innovation, innovation systems, innovation networks, and associated phenomena. This agenda intersects with higher education systems, institutions and practices in a variety of ways, including the development of research and advocacy programs regarding university industry linkages, entrepreneurship, technology transfer, the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in R&D, the role of HEIs in city-region development, online education (most recently), and so on.

But how does this agenda intersect with the globalization of higher education and research agenda? Well, in a wide variety of ways, especially given the globalizing nature of economies and societies. Researchers who focus on all of the above phenomena are increasingly grappling with the impact of ‘global pipelines’ guiding flows of people and information between multiple sites; transnational flows of mobile people, technologies, and the like; and multi-sited epistemic communities that produce the jointly authored publications mapped out here. The vast majority of this research, however, deals with grounded HEIs, institutions fixed in place. This, of course, makes sense, for most HEIs are not mobile, and never will be (and indeed should arguably not be).

This said, one of the most fascinating experiments to unsettle the university-territory relationship, with the aim of engendering new forms of unruly innovation, is unfolding in New York City.

Just over a year ago, in December 2010, New York City stirred up interest around the world with the issue of Request for Expressions of Interest seeking “Responses from the Academic World for a Partnership with the City to Create a State-of-the-Art Applied Science Campus.” As the 16 December 2010 press release put it:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky today announced that the City is seeking responses from a university, applied science organization or related institution to develop and operate an applied sciences research facility in New York City. In order to maintain a diverse and competitive economy, and capture the considerable growth occurring within the science, technology and research fields, the City is looking to strengthen its applied sciences capabilities, particularly in fields which lend themselves to commercialization. The City will make a capital contribution, in addition to possibly providing land and other considerations, commensurate with the respondent’s investment.

In the end 18 responses from a total of 27 HEIs were received, according to this 17 March 2011 press release:

  • Åbo Akadmi University, Finland
  • Amity University, India
  • Carnegie Mellon University with Steiner Studios
  • Cornell University
  • Columbia University and the City University of New York
  • The Cooper Union
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Korea
  • New York University, Carnegie Mellon, the City University of New York, the University of Toronto, and IBM
  • The New York Genome Center, with Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University, Rockefeller University, and the Jackson Laboratory
  • Purdue University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Stanford University
  • The Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
  • The University of Chicago
  • The University of Warwick, United Kingdom

This lineup of universities is noteworthy for it is the largest ever number of HEIs simultaneously considering the stretching of their institutional infrastructures out across space and into one place (NYC, USA). No other jurisdiction has ever, as far as I know, received such an expression of interest in such a concentrated period of time, highlighting the hold the city has on imaginations worldwide. Prometheus unbound, indeed.

As Mayor Bloomberg noted at the same time:

We were enormously optimistic that this once-in-a-generation opportunity would draw the interest of top caliber universities from New York City, the region and the world, and the number and breadth of responses is as strong an endorsement of the idea as we could have hoped for,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The institutions that responded recognize the historic opportunity this initiative represents – to grow a presence in the world’s most dynamic, creative and globally connected city. For New York City, it’s an opportunity to increase dramatically our potential for economic growth – a game-changer for our economy.

To cut a long story short, these expressions of interest were vetted and used to develop a comprehensive Applied Sciences Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop the applied sciences campus. The RFP, which was issued on 19 July 2011, had a closing date of 28 October 2011.

On 31 October 2011, the City of New York issued another press release noting that the City had received 7 full proposals put together by these 17 HEIs:

  • Amity University (Governor’s Island)
  • Carnegie Mellon University/Steiner Studios (Brooklyn Navy Yard)
  • Columbia University (Manhattanville)
  • Cornell University/Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (Roosevelt Island)
  • New York University/University of Toronto/University of Warwick (UK)/The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay/City University of New York and Carnegie Mellon (Downtown Brooklyn)
  • New York Genome Center/Mount Sinai School of Medicine/Rockefeller University/SUNY Stony Brook (Midtown Manhattan)
  • Stanford University/City College of New York (Roosevelt Island)

Each proposal crafted plans to “develop and operate a new or expanded campus in the City in exchange for access to City-owned land and up to $100 million in City capital.”

Interestingly the geographies of these HEIs are less diverse than the lineup noted in relationship to the Dec 2010 response. Clearly the commitment required to harness the direct and indirect resources that would bring such a risky project to life was significant.

By mid-December 2011 a decision was made that one proposal (put together by Cornell University in partnership with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology) would get the formal go-ahead. The image below comes from the proposal, and is supplied courtesy of Cornell University.

While there has been significant coverage of this news story, this 19 December 2011 press release remains the best summary of the proposed project, to date. The official project sites run by Cornell, as well as by the NYCEDC are worth reviewing as well.

During the first two months of 2012 development planning has been fast-tracked and the senior leadership team has been put together. It is also worth noting that discussions are continuing with NYU-led consortium (with the University of Toronto, University of Warwick, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, CUNY, and Carnegie Mellon University) in relationship to a Downtown Brooklyn site, as well as with Carnegie Mellon and Columbia in relationship to two other sites.

I’ve outlined the above stages and provided some links in part so readers of GlobalHigherEd could locate materials about the early development stages of Applied Sciences NYC in one spot. But in doing so, and in grappling with the territorial unsettlings inspired by the draw of the global city of New York, I can’t help but be fascinated by the significance of this experiment a number of levels. From a global higher ed perspective, Applied Sciences NYC is noteworthy because it is generative of:

  • The formation of deep partnerships between universities from different countries, but in a new (third) setting. In so doing, universities have no choice but to forge deep and relatively trusting relations, a requirement and an outcome absent from traditional international partnerships (which are usually struck up for the purpose of forging partnerships, i.e. partnerships in search of legitimizing projects).
  • The creation of a partnership node that can be opened up, at will, to new partners while also serving as a prospective site of engagement between Cornell and Technion’s existing partners universities in the US, Israel, and abroad. This is, indeed, the value of drawing in universities like Technion and Cornell (on this issue see President David Skorton’s guest entry ‘A Cornell University response to ‘A question (about universities, global challenges, and an organizational-ethical dilemma)’’ in Global Higher Ed). Thus, the new campus could, in theory, serve as a site of research, teaching, and collaboration more generally, for the many universities that Cornell and Technion trust and respect.
  • The establishment of new research and teaching programs that will have significantly more latitude for configuration given the novelty of the campus, and the mandate associated with the original RFP issued by NYC. In short, some distance from the origin sites of both Cornell and Technion may help both universities break free from established practices and unwritten codes of convention on their main campuses, for good and bad.
  • The ability to design a campus from scratch, which will enable barriers to collaboration to be designed away (well, in theory!).
  • The creation of an institutional space that will allow these two universities, not originally based in the city of New York, to identify and work more intensely with New York-based partners in the public, private, and non-profit worlds. The abundance of international organizations, NGOs, and non-profits in the city of New York cannot help but be a huge resource to these two universities, especially if they are cognizant of the importance of viewing ‘innovation’ broadly.
  • The creation of physical presence in New York so as to at least have the potential to forge informal relations of trust and interdependency with city-based actors (be they US or foreign). This is, for example, one of the benefits reaped by INSEAD after it established a deep presence in the global city of Singapore in 2001. The unruly processes associated with innovation often take time: they often occur by accident, and serendipity often comes into play. Serendipity is better facilitated, if indeed it can be facilitated, via proximity and territorial co-presence.

These are just a few aspects of the development process that come to mind. While there are many more I could have flagged, I have some World Regions course grading to attend to!

In closing, Applied Sciences NYC is much more significant that even its advocates realize. This is a long-term experiment in reconfiguring the university-territory relationship. Not all universities can nor should do this, but at least some should. And don’t rush to judgment too quickly, either: as a fascinating article about Bell Labs in yesterday’s New York Times reminds us, ‘true innovation’ takes time, and while revolutions happen fast, they ‘dawn slowly.’

Kris Olds