Combatting Partiality: Bridging Social, Cultural, and Economic Divides Through Higher Learning

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

We are facing a difficult time in society. Divisive and fear -based rhetoric fueled by populist and ideological viewpoints dominate numerous mediums , geopolitical relations, and community discussions. Anonymity has enabled critici sm and conjecture to displace constructive debate, the seek ing of truth, the dissemination of knowledge, and societal conciliation. Underpinning and fueled by this divisiveness is a growing social, economic, and cultural divide between individuals and communities on a globa l scale . Recognizing the power of knowledge to combat partiality , societies are looking to higher education to slow and ideally revers e the se growing divides. Interestingly, t he same liberation of information and the accelerating digital revolution that enabled divisive rhetoric to spread is forcing institutions of higher learning to question many of their traditional and measured foundations. Contemporary learners are expecting a seamless connection between the digital and built environment, formal and informal learning, wrap around supports, and the opportunity to contribute to knowledge. A widening gap between knowledge creation and mobilized innovations has placed numerous societies at risk of reduced productivity, economic strength, and social entrepreneurialism . The need for social change and the steady erosion of competitive advantage has forced institutions to seek out new and globally relevant approaches to learning, research, and innova tion to remain reputable in the eyes of their stakeholders. This paper explore s how seeking to create universal equal access to learning may stimulate societ al change while simultaneously enabling institutions to model the next generation of higher education. Particular attention will be given to issues of scalab ility , sustainab ility , and affordability in describing potential learner and community centric alternatives that enable individuals to create and curate knowledge so that they may improve the social, economic, cultural, and environmental quality of life in their communities.// Paper ID 142

Higher Education,Digital Divide,Cultural Expectations