The impact of the new economy on the direction of higher education in the 21st century: Three case studies

Robert De Vel Muller, University of Pennsylvania


The context for higher education has changed as the demands of the 21st century have transformed political, social and economic institutions and relationships. Clearly, higher education plays a critical role in fashioning a future that must combine forces and interests that heretofore have been considered in conflict. For example, colleges and universities must prepare students for employment, in a manner that provides them with more breadth and depth than technical skills training does alone. Likewise, institutions need to serve individual goals, but must simultaneously meet a larger public purpose. The purpose of this dissertation, based on case studies of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, The George Washington University, and Montgomery College, is to better understand how colleges and universities keep pace with changes in the broader economy and society. In particular, the research investigates how leaders are thinking about and acting upon these changes in the economic and social climate that surrounds their institutions, changes that collectively contribute to a circumstance described as the new, knowledge economy. Among the significant findings of this study are a reaffirmation of the role of general and liberal education in an environment characterized by increasing pressure for occupational skills and majors, and the importance of strategically managing change to ensure that an institution remains responsive to external pressures. The study provides insights into how three institutions of higher education are positioning themselves for the 21st century.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Muller, Robert De Vel, "The impact of the new economy on the direction of higher education in the 21st century: Three case studies" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3124697.