September 13, 2004

So, what have you been up to?

time to bring this thing back to life...

From the prespectives of this blog, the last 14 months can be considered a black box, the challenge to the reader is to figure out what the inputs were, how the wiring has changed and whether it matters.

One of the outputs is that at least for the next little bit, the Earth Systems that I am likely to be fixated on will have more to do with the internal wiring of universities. In particular why are they wired the way they are? and What are the implications for any rewiring we might attempt to undertake?

I am in the process of launching myself as a consulting firm -
Earth Management Consulting: interdisciplinary solutions for evolving institutions
The bullseye audience is the set of academic institutions that sees rewiring in response to changes in the external intellectual, economic and political landscapes as a strategic part of their competitive advantage in the coming years. At the center of that bullseye are those institutions that see Earth Systems as key to that evolution. Surrounding those are institutions that want to develop other interdisciplinary topics as their foci and surround that are other kinds of knoweldge institutions (e.g. NGOs and government agencies) that also see the need to mangage and consume knowledge in new ways. (e.g. ProNatura USA)

The dominant theme at the moment is that I suspect that we may be going through fundamental shift in how academia is organized. I am thinking along the lines of the creation of ONR and NSF following WWII or the establishment of German model universities (Johns Hopkins and Clark) in the mid- to late 19th Century. For the moment, I am going to hold the exact nature of this shift close to my chest, but suffice it to say that if I am right, places that have a tradition of porosity across organizational boundaries are going to be in a much stronger position than those with a strong disciplinary traditions.

Pressing questions include:

  • Can the time necessary to implement institutional cultural change be shortened?

  • How strong are the historical settings of univeristies like Johns Hopkins, North Carolina State or Arizona State?

  • Can the rate evolution of univerisities match our need for new knowledge production?

Hilary says that my blog should be more like Somwhat employed. I am not sure how they are diifferent except that mine has more acronyms and the last 14 months are trapped in a black box as an exercise for the reader...