Globalization, Knowledge Economy, and Liberal Arts Education

During the last two decades, the impacts of globalization on both developed and developing countries have become a popular research agenda among social scientists. Such research findings indicate that globalization creates both positive and negative socio-economic changes in developed and developing countries (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). Here, I define globalization as a movement of goods, services, people and ideas across various countries in the world. Under the globalization, many developed countries move their manufacturing industries to developing countries where there are low wage rates for factory workers. Market economy accelerates the speed of globalization. Some researchers showed that market economy and consumerism dimensions of globalization transformed the word into a large shopping mall.
Particularly, in the context of globalization education becomes a marketed commodity in the open market. As a result, liberal arts education reduces its’ value as a public good. Due to the inability of liberal arts education to address real world problems, many countries are considering to revise their expenditure on such programs at public universities. In short, many countries are planning to reduce their expenditure on public universities (Merriam & Bierema, 2014; Finlayson, 2014). This situation created a big challenge for educational experts, administrators, and managers at post-secondary educational institutes. In the context of globalization, the world is facing challenges such as climate change, degradation of natural resources, income inequality, and increasing old age population (Merriam & Bierema, 2014; Conference Board Canada, 2016). Traditional liberal arts education that focuses single discipline is not able to find solutions for such acute socio-economic and environmental problems.
In addition, many employers demand for the range of soft skills such as team work, interpersonal skills and problem solving skills from adult learners who compete for jobs in the current labour market (Merriam & Bierema, 2014; Brinkley, undated). Traditional content based lecture style and student assessment procedures (i.e. mid-term and final examination) are not appropriate to create necessary skills and knowledge among adult learners to deal with current socio-economic issues in the world. Furthermore, such a conventional learning approach is not sufficient to create employability skills such as attendance, punctuality, cooperation, problem solving and team work among adult learners (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). These emerging changes under the globalization emphasize the importance of redesigning liberal arts curriculum at universities to reflect current needs and aspirations of human society.
The key insight of the above analysis is that the role of the instructor is not only to teach subject matters but also to create necessary knowledge and skills to address real world socio-economic problems. Since liberal arts education is financed by tax revenue, the return to such an investment should cover tax payers’ opportunity cost. If the return to investment is smaller than the opportunity cost of tax revenue, there is no economic rationale for carrying out such an investment. As mentioned previously, many current liberal arts graduates do not have necessary skills or knowledge to find solutions for the real world problems. As a result, both Provincial and Federal governments in Canada are considering the validity of the investment in liberal arts education. Therefore, before allocating financial resources for education, governments ask for progress reports (i.e. number of graduates, waiting time for employment, unemployment rate etc.) from universities on each degree program (Finlayson, 2014; Brinkley, (Undated)).
There is also an emerging trend in the reduction of government expenditure on liberal arts education. Therefore, it is very important for university administration to take necessary steps to redesign liberal arts curriculum to reverse the above trend and increase financial investment in liberal arts education. In doing so, educational experts should consider the implicit values of curriculum and applying theoretical concepts in solving real world socio-economic problems (Merriam & Bierema, 2014 Gobry, 2015). In addition, liberal arts curriculum should use an integrated approach instead of being specializing in one aspect of the field. Such an integrated approach may be more appropriate to address emerging socio-economic and environmental challenges in the current world.
As mentioned previously, in some instances, implicit values of curriculum which are outside of subject matters are more important than the subject matters of the course outline because educators and employers consider learning as a life-long activity. Furthermore, they assume that these essential skills not only improve subject knowledge and but also employability skills of new graduates (Watson & Temkin, 2000; Merriam & Bierema, 2014). Therefore, I am planning to address explicitly such employability skills and learners’ ability to apply theoretical concepts in solving real world problems in my future lectures in micro-economics. In doing so, I will implement a student centred learning approach instead of teacher centered learning approach.

References

Bergmann, J., and Sams, A., (2012). How the flipped classroom was born. Retrieved from http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/how-the-flipped-classroom-is-radically-transforming-learning-536.php 2016/09/18

Brinkley, I., (Undated). Defining the knowledge economy, Knowledge economy program report, retrieved from http://www.theworkfoundation.com/assets/docs/publications/65-defining, on 30th August 2016.

Conference Board of Canada, Centre for skill and post-secondary education. retrieved from http://www.confrenceboard.ca/spse/default.aspx, on 20th Nov. 2016

Dale, R., (2005). Globalization, knowledge economy and comparative education. Comparative education, 41(2), 117-149.

Educause., (2012). Things you should know about flipped class rooms. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/irbrary/pdf/eli7081.pdf, 2016/09/18

Finlayson, J., (2014). The changing world of post-secondary education. Retrieved from http://www.bcbc.com/bcbc-blog/2014/the-changing-world-of-post-secondary-education,
on the 30th August 2016

Gobry, P.E., (2015). What is the flipped classroom model and why is it amazing? Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/pascalemmanuelgobry, 2016/09/18

Knowles, M.S., (1984). The adult learner: A neglected species (3rd ed.). Houston: Gulf

Merriam, S.B., & Bierema, L.L., (2014). Adult Learning linking theory and practice. CA: John wiley & Sons Inc.

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