Higher Ed Edited

Could less "stuff" lead to more happiness in academe?

August 13, 2013

What would the Not So Big House movement look like if applied to higher ed?

The Life Edited philosophy is about a desire to simplify.  

A recognition that we don't own our stuff, but rather our stuff owns us. A conscious reaction to materialism, the collection of possessions, and a system of consumption that limits our choices.

The physical manifestations of a less-is-more orientation include an allergy to suburban (subdivision) living, large houses, big yards, and long commutes. New Urbanism promotes walkable communities, access to public transportation, smaller homes, and mixed-use zoning (commercial and residential).  Front porches rather than backyard patios.

What would a University Edited look like?

Could a university, an institution that is built on providing the full range of higher ed services and the full spectrum of academic disciplines, ever evolve into something smaller, less expensive, and more flexible?

A central tenet of the Life Edited philosophy is that less stuff equals more happiness.   

Higher ed has a long history of creating more stuff. More buildings. More departments.  More programs. More centers.  More majors.   

We are great at addition, less so at subtraction.

What happens if tomorrow's students want a simpler university? 

One with less people and fewer buildings.  An education built to human scale.  An institution that maximizes random collisions between faculty and students through shared learning and work spaces. Dense campus designs built for collaboration.

Or maybe a University Edited would lean towards blended and online learning. Programs designed to maximize both mobile and social learning. Degrees constructed around building strong relationships between faculty and students.  

A willingness to forgo amenities such as highly ranked sports teams, palatial dorms, and over-the-top student centers. All in return for a simpler, lighter, and maybe even less expensive approach to higher education.  

What is the higher ed equivalent to the McMansion?


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