New Knowledge, New People, New Economy

Everything that the CALS does can be summarized as either generating new knowledge or new people or participating in a new economy.  

The 1950’s to early 2000’s saw CALS-like colleges move from a production orientation to a science orientation.  Today we need to integrate both technology and “basic sciences” into truly translational and impactful science that includes teaching, research and cooperative extension – much faster. Furthermore, we know that today’s graduates will have multiple careers, not just multiple jobs.

Some examples of the changes that colleges like ours need to undergo include: 

  • Becoming more efficient, effective, innovative and entrepreneurial.
  • Redesigning curricula and degree requirements especially removing parts of the curricula that are obsolete and/redundant.
  • Getting more students valuable degrees faster.
  • Offering many learning options and paths.
  • Offering executive, professional and continuing education.
  • Decreasing the number of employees and programs relative to the numbers of students but improving quality i.e. delivering on rising expectations with decreasing resources.
  • Having a different mix of employees and a different mix of job titles.
  • Being career focused and not degree focused. 
  • Being part of the cyber world and new areas of commerce.
  • Focusing on being more of an economic asset to the state.
  • Increasing collaboration with other units on campus, other universities worldwide and even non-academic entities.
  • Ensuring that we are attractive to all parts of the demographic spectrum.
  • Refocusing our cooperative extension efforts to be more in tune with 21st century state commerce needs.
  • Making aspects of computer and computational sciences central to agricultural and other life sciences training.
  • Becoming “wellness” colleges (as opposed to “sickness” colleges, like medicine).

Key Driving Forces

There are key driving forces that help us identify where major changes will occur in the next 10 years are:

Economic and Financial: The economy is global. The 2007 recession didn’t change the world in itself but it accelerated changes we predicted in 2011.  The worldwide middle class is increasing.  We face a new reality of uncertain future economic conditions and reduced federal funding.

Physical and Social Infrastructure: The central Arizona region has been identified as the Sun Corridor “Megapolitan” Area, one of 20 such megapolitan designations in the US.  The infrastructure is both aging and changing and includes buildings, cyber systems, transportation of goods and people, the production and transportation of energy and water, life-support systems, communications systems, and the governance mechanisms and roles of government that allow society to function.  The rural-urban interface is a critical component to the state’s success.  We face the need to be responsive to technologies and changing state demographics.

Population, Demographics, Generations: The first baby boomers will turn 75 in 2021, several states are heading toward no “majority” cultural populations, and costs for medical care and retirements are unsustainable under current assumptions.  Furthermore, those born after about 1980 are “digital natives” (i.e. who grew up with modern information technology) and as students learn and function differently than many faculty.  Many others outside this age group also wish to take advantage of, and be enabled by, digital technologies.  Consumers want different ways to purchase and to control their financial destiny.  Furthermore, most of CALS incoming freshmen are at university to get a good job or to get to graduate school. Diversity in age and demographics will impact our program delivery and our funding; we must fundamentally shift delivery models as well as disciplines. 

Resources and Environment: Needs for new energy sources as well as more efficient water and energy use will increase.  Food, both internationally and in the US, will become a more valued commodity and more food production is predicted to be more vulnerable to climate changes, urbanization, and alternative land uses.  The rate of food production gains seen in the past are predicted to slow in the near future.  For us this is a key area that we can positively influence and impact, especially in our region.

Science and Technology: Bioscience is continuing to make changes and the implications of those changes on society and agriculture are continuing to unfold.  Information technology is introducing “smart” everything (including sensor uses and robotics) and changes the way people work, learn, and interact socially.  The web has moved from Web 1.0 (library, content) to Web 2.0 (collaboration, social networking) and is becoming “smarter” as it continues to evolve rapidly.  These areas are also those where we as a college fundamentally connect with medicine.  CALS has an opportunity to be part of society’s shift from an illness paradigm to a wellness one.  For us this is a growth area.


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