ACG President Dr. David G. Horner, PhD* talks about high quality education on protagon.gr
As Greece’s economic, social and political structures continue to adapt to new realities, Greece’s higher education sector is likely to undergo significant change. This change may involve fundamental structures (e.g. Article 16) to improve both access to and the quality of Greek higher education while reducing the financial burden on the State. This aim, however, begs the question of what constitutes educational quality, i.e. what does good higher education look like in our time?
Traditionally, such quality has been defined with reference to higher education’s tri-partite mission of teaching, research and public service. Related to student outcomes that derive from quality teaching, I would offer the following nine areas of focus as Greece pursues an empowering educational future for its citizens:
1. Cognitive Capacities: Students pursuing university-level study should improve in their abilities to think logically, to write and to speak effectively, and to employ quantitative analysis.
2. Affective Capacities: Students should enhance their affective skills to listen, to respond to others with empathy and to exercise creative imagination.
3. Historical Consciousness: Students should develop an understanding of history that allows them to situate themselves, to understand the historical identities of others and to reflect on the advantages and limitations of any historical narrative.
4. Multi-Cultural Adaptability: Students should be exposed to and prepared for functioning in international contexts and with others whose backgrounds, beliefs and orientations are different from their own.
5. Moral Compass: Students should be supported in the construction of their own set of personal moral values, should understand how such values may be expressed differently in various contexts, and should develop a sense of themselves as part of a larger society, with corresponding civic duties.
Together these first five areas will hone students’ ability for Critical and Synthetical Thinking – to engage thoughtfully the complex reality facing them, to evaluate alternatives and to fashion contextually appropriate responses. Building on this foundation, the final four areas will prepare students to transition from education to work and to evolve their lives and careers meaningfully and productively throughout their lifetimes.
6. World Language Proficiency: Students, whatever their native language, should become comfortable communicating in the language of global intellectual and commercial exchange – English.
7. Teamwork: Students should gain experience in the various roles related to the functioning of teams – leader, follower, colleague.
8. Job Proficiency and Entrepreneurship: Students should develop proficiencies related to emerging job requirements, including but not limited to the use of technology, but also should be encouraged to explore possibilities for shaping their own vocational futures through entrepreneurial ventures.
9. Lifelong Learning: Students should see their formal education as part of a life-long process of personal and professional development for which they need to assume personal responsibility and should become familiar with the expanding resources available to them to support such development.
Presently and to a large degree the student outcomes above apply similarly in virtually all national and cultural contexts, at least in those countries that aspire to develop global citizens and globally competitive economies. That reality can be seen in the ongoing attempt by countries from Asia to the Middle East to attract US universities to establish foreign campuses. US institutions are regarded as the strongest expressions of these points of student learning emphasis.
Based on my six years of experience as an American educator here and notwithstanding the economic crisis, I believe Greece has some strategic advantages and opportunities to foster attractive and effective higher education learning environments for students. These advantages and opportunities are based partly in Greece’s “brand” (its cultural heritage), partly in Greece’s geographical and cultural position (between East and West), partly in the connection between Greece and the Greek diaspora, and partly in the ubiquitous 21st century resources of technology, low cost travel and growing cross-cultural relationships.
For example, two-way study abroad in which foreign university students are “exchanged” for a term or longer with Greek students; simultaneous “real time” classes in which foreign university students and Greek students experience the same class via distance technology; “co-registered classes” in which foreign and Greek students are jointly enrolled in a common syllabus course on their home campus and then come together in Greece at some point in the academic term; international internships in which Greek students gain professional experience for several months in a multi-national company in another part of the world; joint degree programs in which Greek students gain two graduation credentials from two institutions at the same time.
All the examples above are currently offered to DEREE students. At The American College of Greece, we believe teaching and learning is one of the core competencies quality higher education institutions must cultivate. We are dedicated to meeting this challenge and in so doing hope to provide one model that will benefit DEREE students but also other institutions in Greece.
* Dr. David G. Horner has been president of the American College of Greece (PIERCE – DEREE – ALBA) since 2008. Earlier he headed North Park University in Chicago for 18 years. He began his career in university administration as president of Barrington College in Rhode Island at age 29 becoming the youngest university president in the US at that time. He is a graduate of Barrington College (BA Philosophy), the University of Rhode Island (MA Philosophy), and Stanford University (MBA and PhD in higher educational administration and policy analysis).