Planning for Higher Education Journal

Model for the New Millennium: Preserving Community

Journal Cover
From Volume 28 Number 2 | Winter 1999–2000
By Virginia E. Rezmierski

This paper discussed some of the key aspects of higher education and the notion of community. It reviews the notion of community, discussing issues of shared values, rights and responsibilities, protection, restraint and discipline, and protection against power. It reviews the six characteristics of higher education communities as articulated by Ernest Boyer in his report to the Carnegie Foundation "Higher Education In Search of Community." The paper, reviewing those behaviors, discusses specific stages of emotional development, impulse management, social thinking, and moral development and contrasts mature from immature behavioral patterns in each of the areas. The behaviors that would be required for mature and successful functioning within a community and the valued characteristics of higher education communities are then brought together.
Seeming to change directions completely, but with the promise of bringing the issues into synthesis, the paper next discusses some of the promised characteristics and achievements of the information technology revolution. Issues that are receiving less attention, such as impact of technology on individuals, on quality of academic life, on quality of relationships, and on community are also identified. The author reviews some of the realities that are being seen on college and university campuses. The paper suggests that some of the identified reactions to technology such as reduced tolerance for delay of gratification, increased frustration and stress, feelings of intrusion and disempowerment, misuses of personal information and violations of personal boundaries are important to examine. The relationship between these trends and behavioral patterns seen in lower stages of human development are noted. The author asks the reader to consider whether these are the behavior trends and patterns associated with successfully functioning communities and higher education environments to which we are striving or to more dysfunctional environments against which we should defend.
The paper concludes by charging the reader with developing a new model for the millennium, one that uses technology to build community, to counter the abuses and misuses of technology that can lead to dysfunction, and that focuses on the higher education values and characterisitics articulated by Boyer and others. The charge includes refocusing on our mission in higher education, refusing to embrace new technology on its promise only and insisting that it perform functions required by our mission, resisting change for its own sake but accepting change if it enhances the development of humanity, insisting on safety and protection for all ideas honestly expressed, encouraging accountability of one person to another, focusing on empowerment of all individuals, and maximizing interpersonal time and exchanges. The conclusion is that only with this kind of new model for the millennium, one that focuses on community and on humanity and harnessess technology in the service of these goals can we preserve the open, just, disciplined, and caring communities that we seek for higher education.

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