Beware of Fakers in Graduate Education Modernization: A Cautionary Tale

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) sends out Dr. Joan Frey to take up the important cause of graduate education modernization. (Caution: Dr. Frey and the graduate education modernization initiative are not found on the OSTP website, so maybe this is an internet scam or so unimportant that it is not worthy of a link or search result on the OSTP site.  As no great advantage arises from scamming, the latter may be truest.)

Dr. Frey knows the reasons for modernization, rapid technological change in the 21st century, non-academic career paths, 50 000 PhDs conferred yearly in the United States etc.

Dr. Frey also knows that American graduate education is the envy of the world.

She doesn’t refer to or build upon the success of Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate (CID) or of the work at the University of Minnesota with the Graduate Review and Improvement Process.

She doesn’t know the simple advice from the success of the CID; doctoral programs can undertake modernization via a process of ongoing renewal.

She has not enlisted even American experts in doctoral education.

She doesn’t refer to the scant literature in doctoral education, although she is familiar with the time to completion problem.

She doesn’t want to mess too much with the graduate education for fear of lengthening time to completion.

Why the selective pedagogical amnesia?

American graduate education is the envy of the world.  So OSTP will take a long wind-up approach and organize a committee to strike a committee and meanwhile graduate education modernization can wait.  If it ain’t complete broke down, don’t fix it.

Without graduate education modernization will the American graduate school go the way of the American car industry?  Foreign car makers used American management ideas from business academics to challenge the dominance of the American car industry.  Meanwhile Detroit still suffers from the corporate culture problems American business literature (and the car buying consumer) derides as consumers flock to more ethical and responsive car makers.

Could American graduate education go the way of the American car maker?
Could American graduate education go the way of the American car maker?

Graduate schools compete for students in a graduate education marketplace replete with for-profit universities and open admission policies.  In this context, the graduate education consumer is queen.

With the (non)leadership of the OSTP, the dominance of the American graduate school could go the way of the  American car industry.   A consumer’s choice advantage should flow to a university that modernizes graduate education.  The University of Minnesota is the one to watch.   Via its Graduate Review and Improvement Process (GRIP), University of Minnesota hopes to catapult ahead in reputational rankings and graduate education consumer demand.   OSTP will come following after.  For graduate education modernization leadership look elsewhere.

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