During the summer vacation, I read a very interesting book, “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What machines teach us about human relations.” The author, Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University and his research team developed a theory that “Our brains cannot fundamentally distinguish between interacting with people and interacting with devices.” One of the interesting research findings was about the BMW navigation system case. The BMW received so many complaints about its navigation system from male German drivers. The reason was not on the machine but on the female voice navigation system. In many cases, German men refused to take directions from a woman (i.e., the system that had a female voice). The driver was insistent: “A woman should not be giving directions.” Despite the customer service rep’s reassurance that the navigation system in his car was not actually a woman but just a computer with a female voice, the
driver refused to listen.
As a woman professor at the women’s university which has to nurture and produce women leaders, I delve deeper into a question of what factors are critical for the university to become a world-class university. Most common factors for a great university appeared in many articles are the world-renowned faculty, talented students, funding, wide range ofprograms, excellent research work opportunities, globally acclaimed degree, and combination of freedom, autonomy and leadership.
Another essential value factor for the world-class institution is the emphasis on “give-back” that leads to the centrality of ethical leadership and wisdom as the core values of the learning experience. “Being smart” is valued, but only as a means of giving back. Wisdom is the use of one’s intelligence and knowledge for a common good through the infusion of positive ethical values. Since the land-grant institution must give back to the community and to the country in order to fulfill its mission, its graduates cannot be viewed as truly successful according to the mission of the college or university unless they embody this ideal.
Rapidly changing information technology today has enabled the higher education system to create new models such as UNESCO’s OER (Open Educational Resource) and MIT’s OCW (Open Course Ware). It is expected that these new models can solve crucial problems of higher education, improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Sookmyung Women’s University would greet the new 18th president this September. At this important juncture of the new beginning, we, all the members at Sookmyung, need to think again about what the land-grant values of our university are and should be. It is hoped that with these values we can leap up toward a world-class university by establishing a new vision and model of higher education in line with the advances in information technology and other resources.