AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Chancellor David K. Scott will address the sixth annual Conference on Faculty Roles and Rewards sponsored by the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) to be held Jan. 29-Feb. 1 in Orlando, Fla. The title of the conference is "Faculty Work in Learning Organizations."
Scott and Susan M. Awbrey, assistant vice president of academic affairs at Oakland University and a former American Council on Education (ACE) fellow at UMass, will discuss "The Learning Organization: Implications for Academic Life." Topics will include the forces driving traditional universities to transform themselves for the 21st century, and how faculty and administrators can participate in shaping the future of the academy.
During their presentation, Scott and Awbrey will respond to the conference’s keynote speaker, Peter Senge, author of "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization." A pioneer and world-wide lecturer in organizational learning, Senge is senior lecturer and chair of the Society for Organizational Learning at MIT.
Scott and Senge are part of a group of college and university presidents and administrators who have met to discuss establishing a Center for Integrative Universities that would operate in conjunction with Senge’s Society for Organizational Learning. According to Scott, participants in such a center would "engage in activities designed to produce deep-level, fundamental change that will position them for success in the 21st century." Scott and Senge and others will meet again at the Orlando conference to further pursue the idea of establishing such a center.
Scott said colleges and universities too often "remain bound by specialization" and are unfriendly to new cross-disciplinary modes of inquiry that address complexity. Yet, he said, "society’s complicated problems do not come neatly packaged according to subject matter." Scott said: "Universities must engage in activities designed to produce deep-level, fundamental change. Fragmentation must be replaced with a sense of community, and universities must become the kind of institutions that can link theory with practice and that can span the boundaries of action-centered and abstract knowledge."
Ten years ago, Scott was part of the advisory board that persuaded AAHE to take up the issue of faculty roles and rewards as the most important issue facing the academy. Now, he says, "In another 10 years, the learning organization will be equally as important."