Edge Leadership in the Age of the Commoditization of 
Higher Education

Ann McClure's picture
Thursday, February 7, 2013

‪Allowing higher education to be classified as a commodity is a default position. It will happen if we let it happen. Keeping this from occurring is the challenge which faces an edge leader.

I must make two confessions before I begin. First, I believe that people who lead on the edge do not call themselves "edge leaders" even though others might describe them in that way. And second, my understanding of edge leadership has an unabashedly moral tone or possibly even a moral imperative associated with it.

Moreover, it is because of this moral imperative that the questions related to the commoditization of higher education should be brought into a clearer focus. Our imperative or core value in liberal arts education has always centered around the complete development of all that makes a person whole. Elements needed to provide and enrich this type of education include moral development, the ability to express oneself, a penchant for analytical or critical thinking, an appreciation for creativity, and I would add a sense for how counterintuitive thinking can shape better, more empathetic and more inclusive outcomes. This is a key element of edge thinking and therefore edge leadership.

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