Yesterday afternoon, I sat down for a short interview with Debra Kagan of the Pearson Foundation, a non-profit organisation in the education management industry. In a short space of time, Debra explained her vision of the future relating to the global civic engagement movement in higher education. She also elaborated upon other facets of her work.
Ms. Kagan’s vision of the future is one that reflects on the absolute importance of university participation in local communities and on the global stage. She spoke of civic engagement becoming an integral part of all higher education institutions. Furthermore, she expressed that the current approach to education and its value to society as a whole would also undergo change as civic engagement gains importance. Ms. Kagan later elaborated upon her view of the future, and identified university growth as inextricably linked with the need to find solutions to real world problems. In order for the education community to remain dynamic and be able to cope with changing demands, civic engagement should play a central role.
Ms. Kagan also spoke of the change that she would like to see in the world. Responsible management and stewardship of the earth were identified as essential, so that a legacy may be left for future generations. Above all, a sustainable approach, tempered with respect of the earth would effect positive change for later generations. This concern for future generations is reflected in what Ms. Kagan regards as the most meaningful parts of her life, experiencing life and love with family. In her professional life, Ms. Kagan regards feeling her work as productive, creative and contributory to world good as very important.
It is perhaps the one word, “willing”, that Ms. Kagan used to describe herself that best sums up her outlook of future university civic engagement. Willingness to effect change is an essential step in the process of achieving more engaged universities, and Ms. Kagan has this at the front of her mind.