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What is the potential for disrupting the university?

Tom P. Abeles (Sagacity Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 14 August 2017




After three centuries, the second major transformation from the original Bologna institution is changing, but theory-induced blindness is forcing a major disruption rather than a gradual change. This conceptual paper aims to identify the pressures and the needed restructuring occurring to both the physical campus and the embodiment of the function of the faculty and the institution.


The university in its current form is economically unsustainable. It is an impractical structure for creating new knowledge and for transmitting such knowledge. It needs to respond to changes in education, to demands of those seeking or underwriting the purpose and particularly to the advances in the areas of information and communication technology and artificial intelligence systems.


Education, pre-kindergarten through adult, is becoming continuous and seamless across time and knowledge creation and acquisition. Universities, with exceptions, cannot stand alone as creators and adjudicators of valid knowledge either within the current idea of education or separate from knowledge creation outside of academia.


Those individuals within academia have a significant investment in the current system. Like many in other industries, the changes are producing changes and stress that will take time to respond, particularly as those who are now entering already will have the prerequisite capabilities to adapt and accelerate the change.



Abeles, T.P. (2017), "What is the potential for disrupting the university?", On the Horizon, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 209-214.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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