Giving Compass' Take:

• Bryan Alexander explains the future that he sees for higher education in America based on existing trends.

• How can philanthropists use predictions to help shape their giving? What are the risks of relying on predictions? 

• Find out why some people think that the future of higher education is social impact

Futurists play a mental game of obsessively tracking what’s new right now and making imaginative leaps to predict what might come, say, ten years out.

So what do futurists say is coming for higher education?

This week EdSurge sat down with perhaps the most well-known futurist of higher education, Bryan Alexander, who is working on new book tentatively titled Transforming the University in the 21st Century, The Next Generation of Higher Education, expected to come out next year.

Can you give us a preview of the argument you’re making?

So the first half of the book looks at trend lines that are reshaping higher education in the present. Some of those trends are technological, some of them are within education, some are outside of education—such as demographics and economics.

The second part of the book builds some scenarios for universities down the road. Not necessarily scenarios that I would like to see, but what would happen if certain trends become especially powerful.

Take the medical sector, for example. We already know that in the United States that we have all these trend lines showing that the medical sector is larger than it was before in terms of the numbers of people employed, that more and more people need more and more degrees and certifications, and we know that the sector is getting larger and larger financially. Well, if we extrapolate this trend forward, say 10 years, we can imagine healthcare becoming the leading industry in the United States. If we imagine that happening, we can envision how a campus would be different.

For example, campuses might have more nursing programs, more radiology, more full medical schools. They have perhaps more allied fields such as medical ethics.

Read the full interview with Bryan Alexander about the future of higher education by Jeffrey R. Young at EdSurge.