Yet it's possible that this strength is academia's greatest weakness. It happens in ecosystems as I explored in The collapse of efficient forests. The sustainability may be achieved by a loss of redundancy, diversity and inefficiencies which enable radical adaptations and innovations. The system may become overly-dependent on particular environmental conditions that rarely fluctuate or disappear. The system may become extremely close-coupled -- which then transmits devastation throughout it's boundaries without buffers, disconnects or barriers. The adaptation to ongoing favorable conditions may become very short-sighted, presumptuous and susceptible to unforeseen developments.
If academia has gone this route, we would be hearing proclamations from college administrations and faculty like:
- "Students are not customers and should not expect to be served"
- "Instructions cannot be learned appropriately without instructors certified in the field of study"
- "Legitimacy of preparations cannot be proven without diplomas and grade transcripts"
- "Knowledge cannot be advanced unless it's achieved by professional authorities, experts and empiricists"
As I see it, very sustainable academia has left the door wide open to innovators outside the box to assume:
- Students are customers and should expect to be served
- Instructions can be learned appropriately without instructors certified in the field of study thanks to archiving expertise online, tutoring via webcams, and other e-learning approaches.
- Legitimacy of preparations can be proven without diplomas and grade transcripts as games, simulations and immersive scenarios become proving grounds for competencies
- Knowledge can be advanced by breakthrough insights into personal experiences, creative mash-ups and chaotic changes without the reductionist outlooks of professional authorities, experts and empiricists