Higher Education and Technology Transfer: The Effects of Technosclerosis on Development

William E. Bertrand
November 17, 2010

The merging of information technologies through digital transformation has strengthened the potential impacts of technology and education on social and economic development. Today’s rapid pace of change and the globalized impacts of those changes reinforce the need to develop a global culture of continuous learning and new models of higher education that will provide a continuous resource for knowledge updating and professional development. I argue that the modern university has fallen behind the pace of technological change and has become increasingly irrelevant to the reality of life in an interconnected and globalizing world. Academic ethnocentrism has evolved within the residential, discipline-oriented and tradition-defined higher education system. American universities have not kept up with the challenge of rapidly diagnosing and responding to increasingly complex and dynamic problems such as global warming, health and disaster mitigation. Current initiatives to improve U.S. development interventions fail to recognize the need to radically redesign higher education to implement the development initiatives of the future. A global technology- based educational movement reminiscent of the original concept of the land grant colleges in the United States is needed, which would tie an aggressive research agenda to critically examine the impacts of rapidly evolving technologies to a worldwide network of community-level agents of change that transmit positive results into immediate action. I outline a tentative plan of action based upon emerging evidence of better and more efficient training and educational models that are focused on broad-based sustainable development objectives. By removing the “techno-sclerotic” blinders and challenging the American academe to become more applied and more international, American universities can reassert their relevance and maintain their status as preeminent institutions of social change and innovation in the realm of global higher education.