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Future Shock

Think about everyday gizmos like cell phones, iPods, Kindles, and Cuisinarts. We take items of convenience for granted, yet without polymer science discovery and product development research, these consumer devices would not exist.

For over a century, polymer science faculty and graduate students have explored applications of a wide range of polymer materials, including nylon, neoprene, PVC, silicone, Kevlar, and even old-fashioned natural rubber. So, we offer a guided tour of today’s leading polymer university programs.

Future Shock

A doubting student of Italian once challenged "If English is supposed to be the lingua franca, how come there's no word in English for lingua franca?" Though English is still the most widely spoken language in the nation and elsewhere--the number of Spanish speaking citizens and visitors in the US is expected to grow exponentially in the decade ahead.

Just back from campus info visits, with children having us in tow, we gained a fresh perspective on what today's aspiring college students like best to learn, where they want to live, and how they want to engage in the global higher learning experience. What we learned from the campus tours during spring break is that the fastest growing student co-curricular interests include Model UN debates, semester and summer study abroad programs, and international field practicums in the rain forest and the arctic, and exposure -- indeed, immersion in foreign languages and cultures.

Future Shock

Darwin put it this way: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." This simple truth in nature may best describe the evolution of the most nimble higher ed ownership models in the 21st century.

Why is it that higher education commentators sleep more soundly when Congress is out of session, federal regulatory agencies are closed, and the Stock Exchange rings its closing bell?

Future Shock

Which widely recognized institutions of higher learning come to mind when you think "Big Business"? University Business readers may think of world class research universities and nationally ranked business schools like Harvard, Stanford, Baylor, Babson, or the University of Chicago. Beyond these brand name business school programs and their big league corporate benefactors, global economists, political thought leaders, and higher ed futurists are looking to "small business" as the core accelerator in the emergent global economy.

Beyond local butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, when was the last time you remember shopping at a family-owned and operated bookstore, pharmacy, or haberdasher, let alone a family-owned and operated school, college, or university?

Future Shock

So, what do the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, the State University of New York at Binghamton and Berkshire Community College have in common? If you are searching for an answer, just consider the role higher learning has played in the transformation of America's river mill cities into contemporary collegetowns.

Watching the woolly mammoths reunite in Ice Age Meltdown on a 95-degree scorcher on July 4th, our thoughts turned to global warming and its cataclysmic challenges for our next generation.

We thought at first it was the bounce book authors get when the timing is right for their titles, in our case, Turnaround: Leading Stressed Colleges and Universities to Excellence, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

Yet, we sensed a micro-trend among small, religious institutions looking for everlasting spiritual redemption and long-term economic viability. Indeed, well beyond viability, this new breed of contemporary Christian colleges have intentionally developed new revenue streams—providing financial replenishment for faith-based, liberal arts residential campuses.