Higher Education in the Context of the Global Silk Road Approach by Jan R. Hakemulder, PhD

Historical developments of the university system are highlighted and the contemporary paradigm shift.

The Tao of higher education can be summarized as Self Responsible Self Determination in service of the society, the nation and the world community as a whole.”

UNIVERSITY AND KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT IN HISTORYThe city of Bologna hosts what Europeans think is the most ancient university in the world, founded in 1088. Just as the art of printing is not a European, but a Chinese invention, the eldest university also is not European but Indian. The world’s first University was established in Takshila around 700 BC. The ruins of the great ancient university of Nalanda one can find at a distance of 90 kilometers South East of Patna, the capital of Bihar. This university was founded in the 4th century BC by the Gupta emperors, on direct inspiration by the Buddha himself who inspired 500 merchants to sponsor this project. The studies included Buddhism, Vedas, logic, grammar, medicine, and other disciplines. It really has been an international academic center of learning, many students from foreign countries joining this university. Another impressive academy has been the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. The first mention we have of this famous center of knowledge we can find in “The Letter of Aristeas” (ca. 180-145 BC).

We have to keep in mind that when the first human beings learned to speak, they got an entry to many more data than before. They could communicate with other members of their tribe. The next step has been the invention of the written language: this created the opportunity for knowledge to be imparted without the speaker being physically present. In the Library of Alexandria it is thought that more than half a million book scrolls were available. A third enormous development has been the printing press allowing printing and therefore spreading all kind of texts. A modern national library has millions more copies of printed knowledge than the Alexandria Library. But what computers offer makes the largest libraries in the world look pale. With search engines like Google everybody has direct access to more than 4 billion internet pages, and by one single experiment in the field of particle physics each five minutes adds more data than the complete library of Alexandria ever contained. I think that such numbers teach us modesty.

This has been the glorious past followed by the medieval period when a university was based on “God’s” will as it was revealed in the Latin version of the Bible. We can discover the same trend in universities within other religious settings. In the Renaissance we see a creative change in universities, but industrialization requested other results. Universities were asked to create other types of alumni. Knowledge was based on texts of scholarly authors. These scholars along with their colleagues rationalize a logical basis and they develop bodies of knowledge which become generally accepted. Furthermore the work done has to be in the language of the state that supports the university. Result is the constitution of nationalized norms of knowledge, which are accepted as the curriculum of a national educational system. Examinations make sure that students have accepted and understood the educational aims of the nation and that they will be the promoters of the knowledge the state needs in the development of industrialized societies. Universities of today are designed for the past needs of the industrialized society. They are based on transfer of knowledge and building technologies that are becoming too costly. Mankind will need a new university paradigm for the evolving knowledge society related to the era of rapid technical change and globalization.

At the same time, the Internet and new technologies offer a university type based on computers and telecommunications providing effective and cost-efficient quality education. It is obvious that the role of universities is getting more and more important in the context of assisting students to apply knowledge to real- life problems. It is essential that global problems such as the environment, global warming, water management, sustainable development, prevention and healing of illnesses, terrorism, global peace, etc. demand attention in the most modern way. This also will need more respect for academic freedom: universities have to be free from government influence and control by bureaucratic accrediting systems.

Creation of a new University Culture: the Cyberspace Paradigm

In this presentation I would like to introduce as a hypothesis: Today’s world is developing into the direction of a connected learning community. As a closely related hypothesis, I would like to state as my conviction that a new world order can be created by education through Cyberspace.

Gutenberg, the German inventor of printing, created a milestone for modern civilization. In fact, first invented in China in 1041, the printing press was adapted in the West by German craftsmen in 1454.

The original method of printing was block printing, also invented in China: the Diamond Sutra of AD 868, an important Buddhist scripture, is the first dated example of this technique. In this connection it is good to remember that the famous Western King Charles the Great was an illiterate. At that time the Chinese emperor ordered to collect poems – some 40,000 – to be multiplied and distributed in the country. We tend to suppose that the civilization center of gravity has always been in the West. But the surface of a globe does not have a center. And we are now experiencing a total new phenomenon: the development of a cyber empire.

Millions and millions of young people all over the world are rushing into the challenging techno-culture. This generation thinks in concepts of Internet space, and expresses feelings through that new cyber universe. They are living in accordance to digital principles. The danger is that they are not aware of the fact that they are loosing their identity through the magnitude of information which is not checked or supervised by anybody.

I mentioned Gutenberg whose aim it was to print books of education and its educational paradigm has been the essence of the university spirit. The contemporary educational paradigm, however, is not concentrating on books but on the Internet. This not only changes education, but it changes all cultural codes. It changes the future of the global civilization, the Global Silk Road. This is today’s reality, and mankind has crossed a river of no return. And coming from the rivers worldwide, students are sailing on a boundless ocean completely amazed with what they experience. This ocean is what we call the cyber world, an amazing new world.

We are again experiencing in a varied way the theory of Haeckel that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Mankind has passed a large number of stages of development up till the time named “cyber.” Is this a transition from Homo sapiens, the thinking human being, to Homo Cyber, the digital man? In this relation I would like to mention the Gutenberg project of this time. This project is attempting to convert all character texts into digital ones. The Humi project, organized by Keio University in Japan, is another such attempt. MIT has placed all its courses on the Internet. These are only a few examples of projects making academic courses and information available to students and scientists all over the world. The traditional publishing tool of paper and printing is being modified in the space of virtual reality.

In my opinion, however, the paper-printed book will not vanish, but the e-book and cyberspace will receive and enjoy more and more ideas and attention. Digital means of communication have changed the method of expression itself. At one click on the PC it provides the demanded information. The possibilities are incredible. Large parts of the entire work of a scholar can be stored at once. The speed is very fast when accessing or storing the information, which means efficient and effective use of time and space. The new creation transcends modification and dissolution. In fact, this innovation reforms the way of thinking. The Internet is spreading knowledge and information, in many ways complementary to books and articles provided in print. On the other hand, students have to be aware of the fact that information on Internet is in some cases less reliable from a scientific point of view than materials supplied by the international publishing houses. Consequently, students still need to use books and in addition be guided in the use of the Internet information approach with a critical mind.

The above-mentioned thoughts show that in my opinion the printed information method that existed after the Chinese invention of book printing will not disappear. The Internet will not substitute the printing press. The world has changed however, and that means that the printing method, i.e. the information transmission system, also has to change. Consequently, the printing industry should with flexibility adapt to the new printing environment by a spirit of inter-activeness and fusion. This is the e-book, the new form of publishing through print. This already has been understood by large modern publishing houses offering many textbooks in both printed as well as in e-book form. In textbooks, the authors guide students to selected information and articles on the Net. The e-books can be downloaded on hand palm computers etc., offering daily commuters who spend hours in trains or busses the opportunity to read information on their way to and from their work. It all contributes to a new lifestyle and a different way of absorbing information. As a university conducting research in innovative ways of assisting learners to receive information on the most effective and efficient ways, IOUF has been a pioneer in pointing out new ways. In a special publication I have given some of my thoughts on this matter (see: J.R. Hakemulder: From D(istance) Learning via E(book) Learning to M(obile) Learning (IOUF Press, 2004).

I am sure, however, that this new e-book will soon be treated as an obsolete residue of the past. I am sure that specialists will create another, but a totally different information system in the near future. The new term, Homo cyber, may be coined to describe human beings replacing the term Homo sapiens. The university has the duty to show the way to students how to use new technologies.

Resistance against innovation of universities in general

Most of the existing universities want to keep an aura of antiquity. But these tradition-loving institutions are currently facing a thunderstorm of changes. And you can imagine that these changes are so fundamental that many professors think that the very concept of the university is being attacked. But there is no other way: “Mass education is forcing universities to become more diverse, more global and much more competitive.” (Adrian Wooldridge) And not only that, “University education needs to be related to the needs of society, to the interests of the learners, and function as a way of reaching the deepest inner peace without bothering others and without depending on others. The Tao of higher education can be summarized as Self-Responsible Self-Determination in Service of the Society, the nation, and the world community as a whole” (Jan R. Hakemulder). The changes in universities are caused by the following factors:

The institutions are confronted with the democratization of higher education. Many scholars call it “massification.” In the Western world this has been continuing for some decades. In the last 30 years the percentage of adults with higher education qualifications has doubled. This means that most countries are struggling to cope with huge numbers of students. Countries in the so-called developing world are faced with the same problem: China has experienced a double student population towards the end of the last century, and India is following. The term “massification” has a negative aspect in a pedagogical sense. IOUF has solved this problem by introducing individualized distance learning (see later). We witness a tremendous increase of knowledge economy. This means that knowledge is replacing physical labor, which is the main source of economic growth. The contribution to knowledge-based industries has grown in 10 years from 51% to 59% in Germany, and from 45% to 51% in Britain. The result is that leading companies are at least spending one third of their investments in knowledge expansion. Consequently, universities, being most important sources and promoters of the knowledge economy, have a special responsibility here.

Universities increasingly have to face the effects of globalization. Many students in the European Union study abroad. All kinds of projects allow students to study for a semester or a year at a foreign university before acquiring their degree. Furthermore, international universities are opening departments in overseas countries. IOUF for example has affiliations and departments in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, China, India, and other countries. Another aspect is that higher education has turned into a sort of export industry. In this way, money is assembled in countries like India to support the university at home.

Last but not least, universities have to face more and more competition. Traditional universities need to compete in order to get sufficient students in relation with finance. There is a continuous struggle to get sufficient money for research. Traditional universities are most of the time hampered by politics: they have to please the government in order to not break the financial branch on which they are sitting. In most cases private universities have more freedom, not only in the academic way, but also in management.

Under the banner of quality, governments try to keep control on higher education by control and accrediting rules. This is a strategy that completely is in contrast with academic freedom. For this reason, IOUF is not interested to get any government accreditation. It also does not accept financial support from private companies, nor from governments.

Resistance against e-learning and related technologies in particular

Many people in universities were and are feeling threatened by all these new approaches. They fear being replaced by a computer or of seeing their lecturing replaced by some automated technology. They see the role of the teacher being changed from a sage on the stage to a guide on the side. Besides it all kinds of criticism were vocalized concerning the possibilities of e-mail learning such as: E-learning cannot be used to teach certain subjects, e.g. psychomotor skills; development of course materials can be very time-consuming and, therefore, expensive; e-learning is just not as good as face-to-face teaching.

I would like to make some remarks in this relation. First of all, nearly all skills can be taught by distance learning. Modern technologies can train students even better by using so-called soft skills.

The development of course materials certainly is expensive. I would even like to add an extra disadvantage, which is that because of the very fast development of many subjects, course materials are getting old-fashioned in a short time. For that reason IOUF has chosen for another approach. For undergraduate courses textbooks from the large publishing houses are being selected. Many books are also published as e-books. These can be read on normal pc’s of course, but also offer the possibility for mobile learning, such as reading on hand palm computers while traveling. Most of these books are supported by tests and advices for students and guide books for the teachers. At regular times publishers update their books and other written materials. Furthermore, many textbooks are combined with CD’s with extra materials and materials on Internet. Although the purchase of textbook may be expensive, it is always cheaper than the development of written and supporting materials by us.

The ideas that face-to-face teaching is more effective are not supported by research. Very soon students get bored by a lecture, many scholars in universities are not trained teachers and do not have any didactical experience and capacity. At spare times, modern students are used to zap TV broadcastings. They are thus used to mentally jump from one to the other program. This makes them decreasingly capable to concentrate on a lecture. The effectiveness of face-to-face lectures is very low. In comparison, the study of written texts combined with modern technical materials, active searching on the Internet, virtual reality, Hyper Reality, providing three dimensional wraparound environments, are all revolutionizing how we learn, think, work, and are living. On the other hand, however, I think that in a number of cases the combination of special face-to-face lectures and e-mail learning is extremely fruitful.

Next to non-profit distance learning universities we see now the new for-profit online state-supported and state-controlled universities. Private for-profit universities have also used e-learning as a way of increasing their numbers of students as well as their own revenues. The University of Phoenix Online, for instance, has a steadily growing student population of over 50,000 online. In Europe we can mention traditional distance learning organizations such as the UK Open University and the Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance (CNED) in France have introduced e-learning methodologies and technologies to increase or even replace their printed materials. The above-mentioned conservatism of the academic society will not prevent many and profound changes. The existing university started in a completely different world. In the past, only a small minority of the population went into higher education. Many academics still resist making adjustments which will allow many more students to enter the studies.

On the other hand, technology freaks believe that higher education is in the phase of a full revolution. They state that the contemporary university is an antique institution making use of outdated practices. These institutions are incapable of serving a future world of mass audiences and up-dated information. The famous management guru Peter Drucker announced already in 1997: “Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive…. It’s as large a change as when we first got the printed book. “All students are not satisfied with the education they are offered. In a meeting of European top class students (Maastricht, November 2005), the general demand was: we need better education of quality. Next to knowledge, they also wanted competency and skills. They also would like that tailor-made and individualized programs would be offered on a higher level.

Some aspects of “new paradigm” universities are still focused on existing national issues of the countries they serve. His applies to both the arts and the sciences: There is an English psychology and a French psychology. Philosophy, history and other sciences are nationalized. The same is true for the arts: Rembrandt and Van Gogh are seen as Dutch, Goethe and Schiller as German. With exception of mathematics, most sciences are regarded as the intellectual property of a national state. In my opinion, in the context of globalization sciences and arts belong to entire mankind.

Because the main aim of a university is the creation, processing, management and application of knowledge, IOUF wants to study the function of knowledge in a distance learning university in general, and the place of students, of teachers and of pedagogy in particular. It is a positive sign that there are a growing number of scholars and institutions calling for reformation. Some of them talk and write about “the end of the university.” (McLuhan, 1967) A Fundamental Change in the Dinosaur Universities. Inside the institutions for higher education, particularly in Europe, academics complain about the dominance between administrators and managers and their exchange with politicians who are funding them.

Analyzing the problem, we arrive at the role of politics. The general policy based on “equal educational opportunities in education” combined with the need for higher educated people were leading to “massification.” However, governments did not make the decision to provide funds for the increased numbers and tasks for the academic staff. On top of that the political enthusiasm based on the slogan “equal chances” was limited by the meager results: capacities of students are far from “equal.” To realize the political targets the only way was to lower the quality level of education. I am afraid that The Netherlands is a sad example of this, where teachers in primary education cannot write their own language properly and their skills in arithmetic are below acceptable standards. In a strategy to get better grip on the important institutions, governments are trying to do this by tighter management. This results in an increasing administrative load for academic staff that spends 20 to 50% of its time writing reports instead of teaching and research. At the start of the work of the Intercultural Open University, I made use of the UNESCO statement of the 1970’s by the Edgar Fauré Commission in Learning to Be: “The world needs well-educated people, not a system.” In fact, this has been a guideline and one of the crucial principles of IOU, and with some satisfaction I can observe that nearly all educational planners, researchers and policymakers agree with this. In Secrets of Success it is stated that America’s system of higher education is the best in the world. That is because there is no system (The Economist, September, 2005). If we start comparing the situation of Higher Education at an international level, we observe that the most successful model of higher education is America’s. Of the best universities in the world, seventeen are American. These universities currently employ 70% of the Nobel prize winners. And the American academics produce some 30% of the world’s output of articles on science and technology.

On top of that, a larger percentage of the population is enrolled in higher education in comparison with other parts of the world. Also the success of non-traditional academic course is greater. More than 50% of under-graduate students are women. Also the opportunities for students from the lower income classes are satisfactory.

It is my opinion that the success of American higher education is not only related to money. Of course, wealth is not without influence. America spends more than twice the amount per student as the OECD countries. Americans are fond of and proud of their universities. Nostalgic alumni, donors and generous philanthropists provide fortunes to their beloved institutions. They get most of their income from many resources, such as tuition and fees, businessmen and corporations, etc.

But as I stated before: it is the result of organization, in fact it is the freedom in organization. American universities are much less dependent on the state than universities in Europe and other parts of the world. This example set by the United States can be a solution for other countries as well. But because of the historical lack of freedom in the existing organizations and in the execution of higher education it will not be easy. Even if some European governments advertise freedom of education, from the other side they seem to do their utmost to make life for free universities difficult. Always as a last resort, bureaucrats and politicians will make use of the principle of accreditation: leave universities free to offer education, but do not recognize their diplomas! This is their way to suppress the real spirit of freedom of academics. This attitude is becoming increasingly ridiculous because in many countries students want non-government controlled higher education, because the quality of free universities is higher and is much more geared to the their needs and ideas and of the future society. To summarize the diversity of the American higher education we observe that it has been able to combine excellence with providing a wide range of different types of institutions. Students are in a position to start their studies at community colleges and after two years continue their studies in prestigious universities.

However, big problems are arising in the U.S. In the first place politicians have in the last few years been limiting the academic freedom in the name of so-called “political correctness.” We also witness an increasing influence of orthodox Christians. Furthermore, research shows that undergraduate students are neglected in most universities. Professors prefer to promote themselves by conducting research instead of lecturing. Also the independence and scientific objective reliability of research results are under attack, because of there exist often strong connections with donor corporations.

But despite this criticism the American Higher Education system can in the light of globalization and a changing world society, still act as an example for a new university paradigm. The concept of “paradigm” is central to Thomas Kuhn’s thesis of change through scientific revolution and central to the concept of paradigm in the scientific community. For Kuhn, it is through the sharing of a paradigm that we can identify a scientific community. “Such communities are characterized by the relative fullness of communication within the group and by the relative unanimity of the group’s judgment in professional matters. (Kuhn 1977: 296) It has an existence above and beyond that of the actions of its individual members, and it has a core set of values and orientations towards its actions.

He started to describe his doubts about the objectivity of the scientific method. This resulted in his question about the philosophical grounds on which the university stands. In relation to the university, paradigm means: “What the members of a scientific community, and they alone, share” (Kuhn 1977: 294). Kuhn considered scientific revolutions to be social revolutions as well; they relied upon social interactions to provide a critical mass of dissenting voices to bring about the necessary upheaval. Students are trained to solve problems in accordance to the norm paradigm and have a basic interest in its preservation. When research findings do not fit the norm paradigm, a paradox is created. If the research and the researcher are discredited, the norm paradigm is reinforced. But if the problem proves to lie with the paradigm itself, the resulting scientific revolution involves competition between new paradigms until the new norm paradigm emerges to resolve the paradox. In this way science is rather a self-maintaining cultural communication system than an objective search for truth. Kuhn’s concept of a paradigm to science can be applied in many fields including to any university discipline and, in fact, to any socially established system of knowledge.

It is the general opinion of educationists that educational paradigm shifts occur with a sudden, if not an abrupt change. It reflects at the same time the exploding of many shifts, which in a complicated and complex way influence each other. “These shifts, such as the socio-economic conditions of education, the change from modern curricula to post-modern curricula and pedagogical shifts are driven by communications and information technologies and force us to reorganize our university systems” (Otto Peters, 2003).

The knowledge of medieval universities was based on the Christian doctrine, and any other opinion was in most cases not welcome. The knowledge of our 20th century universities is based on texts of accepted authorities that are regarded as such in their specialized fields. They rationalize along accepted logical grounds and communicate with a group of colleagues to develop accepted bodies of knowledge. This communication has to be in the accepted and legalized language of the state that financially supports the university. The result is that national norm paradigms are supported, which altogether sustain the curriculum of a national education system. Students have to show that they have understood what textbook authors want them to understand. They have to show that in exams. Many of the students, when they themselves become teachers continue to teach along the same lines as suits the established system.

Through discussion in society paradigms can be “created” and “shifted.” But it is not easy to change such paradigms. Accordance to Michel Foucault a university paradigm is an expression of the “time spirit.” This is an all-encompassing body of unconscious knowledge peculiar to a particular time and place. In fact, this correlates with Kuhn’s concept of a paradigm. Kuhn believes that when a paradigm changes, the world itself changes.

The challenge is to develop a university that rises above the limited thought patterns of national boundaries, and to cultivate cadres of professionals who are equipped with global knowledge in order to solve global problems. At the same time they are in a position to act local in consonance with their own culture and scientific specialization.

Global learning for a civilized and peaceful global society

The question we are facing is if, broadly speaking, global learning can contribute to peace and justice in a world that is caught in military and economic conflicts. After the end of the Cold War, we seem to have entered a global civil war. This war is erupting in all parts of the world. In this “war” there seem to be no human or rules and regulations whatsoever; the Convention of Geneva seems to have been forgotten. There are fears that the 1996 ideas of Samuel P. Huntingdon in his The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order are becoming true. Many people and even politicians are openly speaking about the clash between the Muslim and Christian world. Mankind is facing a conflict of unabashed material interests such as the control of Middle East oil and, in the near future, of African sources. Further there is the irreconcilable confrontation of political and religious fanatics. Last but not least, the world continues to face the problem of educating more than 6 billion people in order to avoid future catastrophes as a nuclear or environmental holocaust. Such education however not only has to concentrate on information and knowledge, but also calls for a revival of the core values of compassion and enlightenment as is embedded in every civilization that has shown real greatness. It has to be combined with the development of the cognitive and professional skills needed for survival.

An increasing number of educational specialists and decision makers are accepting that learning is a lifelong process. They agree that colleges and universities have a task and responsibility to disseminate knowledge to learners through non-traditional delivery systems. Satellites, email and the Internet, CD-ROM and other technologies have revolutionized the ways of communication, movement of goods and services, and create new knowledge.

That means that there is the need for increased cooperation between various universities and the contacts between institutes of higher education and private corporations. This also demands the intensive development of a new delivery system for learning in the cyber-based learning society. The modern transformation of higher education has started with the development of new communication technologies. Virtual universities are increasingly taking over the work of traditional universities. Conventional universities seem to have lost much of their functions as research institutes to international corporations. The function of education is getting the terrain of virtual and other modern universities. Universities at the moment are regarded as vital and interactive social institutions. They are acting as the moral and intellectual custodians of their societies. In this way, the institutions of higher education are too limited in their scope with regard to the future society. Mankind needs universal higher education and that is at possible now by liberating educational systems from the limitations of time and space.

I have mentioned various cultural codes and their relations with religious aspects. We have to remember, that also conventional universities, i.e. in the Far Eastern (meaning Confucian), the Eastern (read Hindu and Buddhist), the Middle Eastern (mainly Judaic and Islamic) and the Western (Christian) worlds imposed certain limitations on knowledge acquisition and understanding. Those limitations are closely connected with their accepted metaphysical worldviews. In the context of finding new parameters for modern institutions of higher education, old boundaries were overcome, but new ones related to positivism and empiricism were imposed. We have seen paradigm shifts from Newtonian to Einsteinian worldviews and from Creationist to Darwinian. We see even an expansion of such theories by for example the superstring theory in physics and the chaos theory, which comes from mathematics but is often applied for theories concerning chemical and biological processes. In my opinion, such theories are however not sufficient for the development for a future world society.

Distance learning and virtual universities are further expanding the boundaries by making all knowledge relative. This means that as soon as scholars promote the truth, they can be sure of furious attacks. In this context, an approach of tolerance for different opinions is important. This means that dialogues between scholars of various cultures and civilizations is crucial. We have to keep in mind that the 20th century has been the most violent in the history of humankind. It is important that we learn from this for our future. Civilization is a movement and not a condition, as stated by Arnold Toynbee (1948). But civilization cannot be considered as a characteristic by one nation or region of the world. Therefore, civilization must be regarded as a movement of the total of mankind. It is clear that the IOUF network can play a role in this movement. It seems to be important to combine the most important aspects of the history of mankind with contemporary scientific developments and discoveries, making use of communication technologies in a network of universities and university departments. In this case, we will need a multiversity such as the Intercultural Open University Foundation claims to be.

IOUF in a Global Perspective and Action Oriented Project Proposals in particular

If education has traditionally been considered a function of teaching, today, and even more so in the future, education means the permanent process of learning by every human being in society. Consequently, learning to change has become one of the new prior objectives of education. The basic formula for most classroom activities comes from scholars and professors of the medieval period. They stood in front of the class and lectured. The reason was that they were the only ones in the room who had access to literature. Today, the situation has completely changed, but this teaching mode is still in use. However, instead of 30 aspiring students acquiring knowledge from rapt concentration, research shows that most teaching is closer to:

EventStudents listeningStudents daydreaming
Question answered129

Today’s students are burdened by a never-ending and ever-increasing assault of information and with insufficient or no training in how to discern the useful from the unneeded. In this connection the success of distance education is understandable, especially of those institutions using individualized approaches and didactics. Assisted by the best professors and tutors, students are stimulated in their learning process by choosing literature and practices that are up-to-date and suitable for the environment they are living in. This approach to learning seems far superior to the old-fashioned traditional didactics of teaching, especially for more mature students. Education should consciously and decisively involve the person in a permanent, life-long process that begins at home and in the family, and continues in the appropriate educational setting. It continues during his or her professional career, in leisure activities, in the community or in organized groups, and extends into the retirement years in personal and altruistic pursuits. Life-long Education, a philosophy and strategy promoted by UNESCO, has become a global need.

I would like to present the example of IOUF. The university started its international distance courses as an independent university in 1980. New didactical approaches, such as “individualized learning” and “self-designed curricula” where introduced. It was too early to call upon the theory of Foucault. But in the last decades the Zeitgeist has changed in several ways. First of all, technical developments assisted the practice of the educational philosophy: the Internet was invented and this technology quickly spread all over the world, while the demand for higher education was growing. This opened the way for distance learning because it needs fewer professors and is less costly as the old-fashioned face-to-face teaching in expensive buildings of stone and glass. Another important factor has been that students in many parts of the world are no longer the docile persons of previous times, but personalities with their own opinion aimed at getting the best education. They increasingly fit in the context of what IOUF calls Self-Responsible Self-Determination. The learner makes decisions about the content and direction of his studies in relation with future life and work planning, but naturally this also implies that the learner is responsible for his/her decisions.

IOUF students are of all ages: from 18 to 88 years at the moment. The average age of IOU students, however, is about 37 years. Most of IOUF students are mature working men and women, using their spare time for deeper studies. In this case IOUF contributes to a part of the society that as yet is not fully involved in higher education. This is a worldwide problem, as also is shown in a recent report published by the European Community (2005):

“Adult learning is important for economic growth and also for social and personal development. However, it is still a weak link in the lifelong learning agenda. Adult learning can enhance the human capital of individuals and nations. It can bring important social benefits in terms of improved civic participation and social cohesion as well as personal benefits, such as improved health and well-being and greater self-confidence. However, despite these benefits, there is insufficient participation in adult learning. It generally concentrates on certain groups: the younger, the more educated, or those working in larger enterprises. The low participation of more disadvantaged groups in adult learning is mainly due to lack of motivation and other barriers such as time and financial constraints and lack of appropriate education.”


1) Individualized Master Degree Programs

In the 1970’s the Antioch University in the USA started with individualized Master Degree programs. Antioch is a famous and innovative face-to-face teaching institute of higher learning. When IOUF started the American university wished to expand its activities to Europe and IOUF was asked to assist in mainland Western Europe. Because of problems at home, Antioch decided to first solve their problems before going overseas. For us, however, it was challenging to experiment with individualized degree programs in distance learning.

It was decided to start individualized programs at master’s level. In our opinion, students first need to learn a scientific approach for study and need knowledge before being guided in their own study program. Therefore, modular programs were developed for the bachelor’s degrees. These study programs give more direction to students, and include compulsory subjects, and various parts where students can select and make a choice based on their own interests. For detailed information, please, consult Annex 1: The Strategy in the Individualized program

2) Aristotle Project: Peripatetic Team of Specialists

We have selected a number of subjects for which specialists can be involved. After composing a list of possibilities, various departments and affiliations within and outside the IOUF network can make arrangements to attract the knowledge and expertise of those individuals or teams. For detailed information, please, consult Annex 2: Aristotle Project

3) Global Ecological Village

Though it remained long unfamiliar to the general public, ecology emerged in the second half of 20th century as one of the most popular and most important aspects of biological sciences. The reason is that it has become painfully evident that the most pressing problems in the affairs of men – expanding populations, food scarcity, environmental pollution, and all related sociological and political problems – are to a large degree ecological. The German zoologist Ernst Haeckel introduced the word “ecology.” He applied the term Ökologie to the “relation of the animals both to their organic as well their inorganic environment.” In this sense ecology deals with the organism and its environment. “Environment” includes both other organisms and physical surroundings. It involves relationships between individuals within a population and between individuals of distinct populations. These interactions between individuals, between populations, and between organisms and their environment form ecological systems, or ecosystems. Ecology can be defined as the “study of the interrelationships of organisms with their environment and each other,” or as “the economy of nature.” Modern ecology is focused on the concept of the ecosystem, a functional unit consisting of interacting organisms and all aspects of the environment in any specific area. It contains both the non-living and living components through which nutrients are cycled and energy flows.

4) The Total Health Village


The main theme of this article is how the mind and its influence on health and disease was once considered a very essential part of medicine and healing and how in the last few hundreds years mind and medicine have slowly drifted apart. First of all it is argued that western medical approaches have a limited success, and that the recognition of mind as an aspect of significance in medical well-being becomes more and more prominent in health care. Secondly is it argued that also western psychotherapeutic treatment is not optimal. Consequently, a new paradigm is proposed in which medical, psychological, sociological, philosophical and anthropological theories and practices are combined and integrated into Cultural and Spiritual Interaction, underlining the unity of body, mind, and social and spiritual attitude and behavior.

The above is the summary of an extensive article: A Holistic Approach to Health and Disease: An Innovative Paradigm: Cultural and Spiritual Interaction (Hakemulder University Press, 2001). In this article the importance of research, practice, education and training in the field of alternative approaches related to maintaining health and treatment of diseases is stressed. This now is worldwide known as Integrated Medicine. One of the aims of the Intercultural Open UniversityFoundation is to promote Integrated Medicine by research and also by exchange of information and practice between the faculties of IOUF and related universities. Next to meetings and exchange of specialists and students, promotion of principles and findings via the Internet, and scientific publications, the establishment of a Health Village is a priority of IOUF. The IOUF medical faculty prepared a project proposal for the establishment of such a village. This has not been effectuated yet, reason why this is brought to the attention of the participants of this conference in order to investigate whether there are possibilities in other countries. Cooperation between the IOUF medical faculties in Japan, Taiwan, China, India and Europe is strongly advised. This connection can be the central line to establish connections with other scientific institutions and universities. I would like to propose the establishment of a team of experts to prepare proposals. For detailed information, please, consult Annex 3: The Total Health Village

5) Globalization of MBA: The Human Touch

Developments in BBA, MBA, and DBA courses and their demands are growing tremendously. In the western world we can see that even the most famous institutes which offer these courses increasingly feel the need to cooperate with institutes which in the past were competitors. But the development in international business makes it a must. Therefore, new networks are formed between several institutes.

The Intercultural Open University Foundation is a network in itself. Therefore, IOUF has a great opportunity to develop links with the various institutes offering Business Administration. As examples I would like to mention: the Ehle Institute (Japan), the Fudan University (China), ABMA (Hong Kong, Macao).

As a discussion paper I present Globalization of MBA: the Human Touch (Hakemulder, University Press, 2004) (Annex 4).

6) Student Exchange Programs

The network structure of IOUF makes it very suitable for exchange programs for students. A special proposal can be prepared by a few professors from different faculties. In my opinion, the first programs can be organized for students in Health Science, Economy and Management, and in Business Administration.

7) Research Group Use of Educational Technology

IOUF is a promoter of distance learning in general, making use of innovative technologies. At the moment IOUF is experimenting with so-called m-(obile) learning. (Hakemulder, J.R.: From e-learning via d-learning to m-learning. Opeinde, 2004).

I propose that a few educational specialists from various departments of IOUF start research in relation with feasibility and usefulness of new communication technologies.

Jan R. Hakemulder Opeinde, November 2005


Jan R. Hakemulder: The Global Silk Road

Fay A.C. Hakemulder: The Spice Route

Jan R. Hakemulder: The Concept of Man in Chinese Thoughts

Jan R. Hakemulder: The Concept of Man in Indian Thought

Jan R. Hakemulder: The Concept of Man in Greek Thought

Fay A.C. Hakemulder: Student Centered Learning

Jan R. Hakemulder: Master of International Management (MIM degree)

Jan R. Hakemulder: Management of Radical Change

Student Exchange Programs

With the many affiliations and departments we have the establishment of student exchange programs is very well possible.

Especially in the fields of Integrated Medicine, International Management, Peace studies and Gender studies, IOUF has sufficient expertise to make such programs to a success. These programs can be related with what has been mentioned earlier as Peripatetic Teams of Specialists.

Research: Educational Technology

In the search of a new university paradigm for the future knowledge society we have to encourage research to the use of innovative educational technologies. We are entering a period of high demands for education, and on the other hand we see a rapid technological change and globalization. Many existing universities have been designed for the needs of the industrial society that no belongs to the past. Their approach is based on teaching in buildings of glass and stone. But we need other ways of getting the message across.

The Internet and all kind of new technologies are offering more efficient, effective and cost-effective possibilities to face the rising demands.1 In this relation I would like to mention technologies as virtual reality, Hyper-reality, nanotechnology and so-called artificial intelligence.2 These technologies are providing three-dimensional pictures to assist the way of learning and working. In this relation I would like to propose the establishment of an Educational Research Group in India.

1 J. R. Hakemulder:

From D(istance) Learning and E(book) Learning to M(obile) Learning.

2 More information available on The Internet: Lalita Rajasingham Zentrales Institut für Fernstudienforschung (ZIFF), FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany.