Michael D. SmithSep 29, 2023
The Abundant University
Remaking Higher Education for a Digital World
MIT Press 2023
For too long, our system of higher education has been defined by scarcity: scarcity in enrollment, scarcity in instruction, and scarcity in credentials. In addition to failing students professionally, this system has exacerbated social injustice and socioeconomic stratification across the globe. In The Abundant University, Michael D. Smith argues that the only way to create a financially and morally sustainable higher education system is by embracing digital technologies for enrolling, instructing, and credentialing students—the same technologies that we have seen create abundance in access to resources in industry after industry.
The Abundant University: Remaking Higher Education for a Digital World (MIT Press, 2023) explains how we got our current system, why it’s such an expensive, inefficient mess, and how a system based on exclusivity cannot foster inclusivity. Smith challenges the resistance to digital technologies that we have already seen among numerous institutions, citing the examples of faculty resistance toward digital learning platforms. While acknowledging the understandable self-preservation instinct of our current system of residential education, Smith makes a case for how technology can engender greater educational opportunity and create changes that will benefit students, employers, and society as a whole.
Smith, the J. Erik Johnson Chaired Professor of Information Technology and Marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, argues that American higher education is subject to market forces just like any other industry. Forbes says, “With a straightforward, conversational style, Smith succeeds in portraying the current problems bearing down on higher education and offering a set of bold solutions for a future where he envisions a college education becoming ‘more open, flexible, inclusive, and lower-priced.’ The Abundant University is a provocative book that should be read by higher ed insiders as well as those in the general public who care about expanding the reach and the impact of higher education.”
John Emrich has worked for decades in corporate finance, investment management, and corporate strategy. He has a podcast about the investment advisory industry called Kick the Dogma.