Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publisher

Edith Cowan University, Western Australia in association with Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Thailand.

Comments

Originally published in the Proceedings of the EDU-COM 2008 International Conference. Sustainability in Higher Education: Directions for Change, Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia, 19-21 November 2008.

Abstract

Written by a retired university and college engineering teacher, who (at 73) is now Khon Kaen University‘s oldest student, doing a PhD study of Sustainable Development‘s Curriculum Effects, the paper is directed primarily to young members of faculty who are looking forward to their careers in universities as those universities will be in the future. The paper provides a challenge to universities in response to geopolitical change. While at first glance the scenario of global resource depletion and impact on the local Mekong Basin community presents a depressing picture, the paper provides an optimistic option based on forward thinking led by proactive thinking by educational leaders. The paper briefly describes the learning that its author derived from studying with the Hawai‘i Centre for Futures Studies in 2006 and how, in 2007, that study affected his MA study of forthcoming reverse migration back to North-eastern Thailand in response to geopolitical change. It then looks at how this affects higher education institutions in the Mekong Region. The paper argues that universities and colleges have inherited a pre-disposition to be reactive to the pasts of their societies, as opposed to pre-actively preparing for the futures of their societies. It points out that higher education institutions need to change their thinking in the ‗business planning‘ part of their development plans now that we are at the ‗tipping point‘, when the industrially-developed nations (or parts of nations) are making the transition from increasing energy availability to decreasing energy availability. It explains the background to the ‗tipping point‘, its geopolitical effects and the consequent national effects of energy depletion. It offers a scenario in which it is feasible that the areas comprising the Chao Phraya and Mekong Basins, led by their higher education sector, may lead the world in successful, peaceful, adaptation to the changed circumstances. That is a scenario that is more optimistic than most that could be constructed, and examined and found to be feasible. The scenario‘s feasibility depends on forward-thinking intellectual leadership taking advantage of the particularly advantageous circumstances of the Chao Phraya and Mekong Basins.

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