Is higher education perfect? No. What needs to change? Everything. And nothing. Many of my proposed changes to higher education are cultural shifts, in how the academy perceives its many iterations.
First, the academy needs to level the perception of all disciplines’ values. The hierarchy, wherein the sciences rule and the humanities are left to beg for funding, needs to end. And I don’t say this strictly as a person affiliated with the humanities– I say this as a human being. The humanities offer a great deal of insight into how scientific knowledge can be used, and how it affects people. Science tells us what it means to be a human biologically, chemically, and atomically; humanities tell us of humanity’s heritage, and how we think, feel, and interact.
Second, the academy needs to maintain openness to pedagogical and disciplinary change. Things change, and the nineteenth-century model of learning is overdue for an overhaul. I don’t know how it should change, but it needs to. What I do know is that technology should only be used if it’s used well. Using new technology for the sake of new technology is a waste of effort and resources.
Third, the academy needs to value good teaching as highly as good research. Publishing ought not be the only (or even primary) factor in achieving tenure, and good instruction is hard to come by. One way that the academy could remedy this is in the inclusion of “teach-to-teach” classes at the graduate level, wherein department-recognized good teachers help students learn how to teach well within the discipline.