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Synthesis 2013

Dartmouth Strategic Planning

Holding Higher Education to a Higher Standard

In today’s rapidly evolving technological, socioeconomic, and demographic landscape, even the strongest of institutions must take bold steps to ensure continued excellence. For higher education, the changing world brings with it significant implications. Advances in knowledge and technology have led not only to profound shifts in the way we communicate and share information, but when, where, and how we learn and create knowledge. At the same time, our increasingly globalized world has created unprecedented opportunities for many — as well as an unprecedented scale of economic, environmental, and societal challenges. By continually challenging ourselves to improve, Dartmouth will grow even stronger and thrive in the decades ahead.

Ten critical trends to consider:

1. Major demographic shifts are leading to a rapidly changing national and international student population with evolving strengths, needs, and interests.

2. Escalating costs of higher education, rising debt and a challenging economy have led to widespread concern about affordability, the value of a traditional liberal arts education, and increased competition for declining sources of revenue. Families are questioning the ability of traditional programs to prepare students for success in tomorrow’s workforce.

3. Knowledge generation is rapidly accelerating and its creation and transmission are global, underscoring the importance of an institution's need to keep pace with advances and to remain relevant in a global marketplace of ideas.

4. American universities have been world-leaders in research over the last half century, but while the US is reducing research support other nations are investing heavily in their universities’ research capacities.

5. Universities are aggressively building their international reputations for excellence to increase recruitment, raise their participation in global issues, and provide greater opportunities for their students and faculty.

6. New technology and methodology are profoundly impacting our understanding of when, where and how the best teaching and learning happens – this is rapidly driving new methods for learning and teaching, locally and globally. Digital technology is opening up a variety of new audiences for online programming and increasing calls to allow students to take courses anywhere and anytime.

7. Colleges and universities are increasingly expected to provide services to their local, regional and national communities, to help prepare more students for college, to retrain the aging workforce, and to remain active with their alumni over their lifetimes.

8. Collaborative and holistic living environments to seamlessly integrate students' curricular and co-curricular interests and provide diverse opportunities for contemporary learning and living are becoming the norm.

9. Expectations are growing that graduates receive job-related training as well as integrative critical thinking skills. Colleges and universities face growing demand to produce graduates who are skilled in integrative thinking and can bring practical team-oriented approaches to addressing the world's most complex problems.

10. Ph.D. graduates face an extremely competitive job market. Schools are taking more holistic approaches and adjusting graduate education to prepare students for jobs both inside and outside of academia.