I had the pleasure of attending the Laureate International Universities' annual Leadership Summit last June. As readers of this blog know, Laureate is a for-profit corporation that runs a world wide network of higher education institutions, both brick-and-mortar and online. Laureate is one of my potential disruptors. Not surprisingly, while listening to some of the talks at the Summit, I found myself musing about some of the very different ways that various players in higher education are conceptualizing globalization, and how this was related to the place-based identity of most higher education institutions.
I have written about what I called the place-based identity of higher education institutions, and how it impacts globalization efforts. Most higher education institutions were created in response to local needs, typically with funding either from individuals of the area or local (or state) government. They initially served primarily students from their surrounding regions. Thus, they responded to the special contexts of their regions - they were place-based both physically through their campus and also programmatically through their focus on response to local conditions and needs . As time went on, the contexts of regions changed and became more complicated, and successful institutions responded to those changes, keeping in step with those changing regional contexts. In addition, some institutions began to view themselves as national, not regional, institutions and so the context to which they were responding became much larger and national in scope. However, the simpler, geographic component - the campus- of place-based identity generally did not change in any significant way. Most institutions continued to maintain one main campus right where it started. If there were offshoots, they were generally small and designed to better serve their region. This maintaining of the original campus as the "main campus" further connects today's institutions to their origins even as they change to respond to new contexts.