Okay, I admit it: I’ve become an unrepentant member of the Youngme Moon fan club.
Watching this checklist, I was inevitably reminded of the struggles of a couple of close friends who are dealing with a similar collective mindset.
They are faculty members within a highly technical and applied field at a major U.S. land-grant university. The outreach work they are undertaking on behalf of their department offers incalculable benefits to one of the fastest-growing segments of their state’s economy. Their efforts already have garnered substantial private sector support and will undoubtedly set a benchmark for similar projects in other highly technical, applied disciplines throughout their university. They’ve also developed a unique way to crowdsource their efforts.
The concept they’ve developed has the potential to place their department and their institution on the political and economic radar in a way that comparatively few faculty members could conceive in the course of their careers.
Inexplicably, though, they have been stymied by other faculty members who have raised many of the same obstructive questions outlined by Moon. They steadfastly maintain that the department’s first priority should be keeping pace with their counterparts at other technological universities by enhancing the rigor of undergraduate and graduate admissions and teaching standards.
Therein lies the tragedy: As Moon would describe it, they’ve chosen to stick with the prevailing metrics rather than adopt behavior that has the real potential of distinguishing them in a uniquely different way.
There is a lesson here to Cooperative Extension professionals. For a variety of reasons, our approach in the future must be creative – not only creative but also disruptive.