Statement of Purpose

According to countless authorities and commentators, higher education has entered a historical moment of profound disruption. This moment is defined by many developments, including the changing nature of students, curriculum, classrooms, and learning itself. But if one were to focus on that most disruptive of elements—technology—one might compare the situation of universities and colleges today to that of the Catholic Church in the early 16th century. Due in part to a technological advancement—the introduction of the printing press—the Church lost its monopoly of knowledge. Due to a new idea—“the priesthood of all believers”—a notion most famously articulated by Luther, the Church lost its monopoly of credentialing. What followed was a series of Reformations that split the Catholic Church into multiple fragments. Ultimately, it survived, but in a drastically reduced state and only after undergoing its own Reformation.

Today’s university has been around for about 800 years, or not much more than half the time the Catholic Church had been around circa 1500. Due to a technological advancement—the internet—the university has lost both its monopoly of knowledge and its monopoly of credentialing. It may survive, but, many argue, only if it undergoes a reformation as profound as that of the 16th century. This reformation may affect virtually every aspect of university life and structure, but what we can say with confidence is that the spatial and temporal organization of universities and the nature, locations, recognition, and assessment of learning will be very different in the next decades than they are now.

Recognizing that the survival and success of the University of the Fraser Valley depend on how well we prepare for and position ourselves in this new world, UFV’s senior academic team has decided that this moment of disruption calls for a different mode of education planning than the one we are used to. We need a collective and longer-term visioning exercise focused not on the minutia of courses and programs, but on the very nature and organization of universities. For UFV’s Education Plan, 2016-20, a Visioning Committee will be created with the purpose of imagining and articulating UFV’s place within a general vision of higher education’s future. Through a variety of consultation mechanisms, all areas and individuals of the institution will have the opportunity and are encouraged to participate in this visioning exercise.

The Visioning Committee will meet regularly during the 2015 Winter Semester to engage in a visioning exercise for UFV’s next five-year Education Plan. The primary question it—and all of us—will answer is:

What should UFV look like in 2025?

This broad question comprehends more specific ones, including:

  • What does learning look like in 2025?
  • What’s it like to be a student in 2025?
  • What do educational units (departments, disciplines, etc.) look like in 2025?
  • What does a course look like in 2025?
  • How are universities organized in 2025?
  • What do UFV’s campuses look like in 2025?
  • What will UFV’s online environment be like in 2025?
  • What’s it like to be a faculty member in 2025?
  • What role will technology play in 2025?

After the Committee has articulated a vision of UFV in 2025 it will turn its attention to the following question:

What are the five goals that UFV must achieve from 2016-20 to set ourselves up for 2025?

This question also comprehends more specific ones, such as:

  • How will we facilitate learning in and outside of the classroom and on and off campus?
  • How will we use technology and space?

A reading list on the future of universities and the future of learning is being assembled. Members of the Visioning Committee will read the items before the first meeting. We encourage all members of UFV to suggest additional readings.

The Visioning Committee will consult widely throughout the process. It will solicit input in a variety of ways, such as electronic comment forums, town hall meetings, charrettes, etc. There will be community and industry involvement.

The task of the Visioning Committee is not to identify programs and courses for the future. Its focus is a broad vision of the future of universities, the future of learning, and the future of teaching- and regionally-focussed institutions like ours (including our mandate, strategic directions, Institutional Learning Outcomes, Education, SEM, and Strategic Research Plans). Its composition will not be driven by the criterion of representation. Its members will not be representatives of areas, but those capable of imagining the future and thinking outside the box. As a whole, the Committee must embody the true spirit of liberal education and be capable of liberating itself from unquestioning obedience to the authority of custom and the dogmas of the past.

Proposed Timeline:

Winter 2015:

University community begins visioning exercise in departments, units, on the web, in governance and other committees. Visioning Committee begins its work and receives submissions. Continually revised drafts of the vision document regularly circulated.

Autumn 2015:

Complete consultation and refine final document.

Winter 2016:

Education Plan, 2016-20 goes to APPC and Senate for recommendation to Board.

March 2016:

Board approves Education Plan, 2016-20.

 

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