This particular vision of the “Global University” has stimulated discussion and debate in the U.S. engineering community, and abroad. To many members of the U.S. community, including several U.S. members of the task force, the vision correctly identifies some important tasks for engineering education in the coming years. However, the U.S. members believe that the vision takes too narrow a view of the university's role in general and engineering education in particular. Even in a world characterized by global business, universities will be expected to advance knowledge and to deliver education that enhances personal development as well as to prepare students for careers. Even in engineering, which can be seen as being more career-oriented than other parts of the university, education must impart knowledge that goes beyond the short-term needs of industry.
For example, Chapter 6 covers the language and cultural knowledge required for global engineering, much of which draws on the liberal arts and social sciences. In a broader sense, engineers will need to be attuned to a wide variety of issues in the future, including the integration of ethical-humanistic issues into their work.2 In addition, laying the groundwork for lifelong technical currency that serves the long-term interests of industry as well as the individual engineering student will require exposure to scientific advances outside of the typical engineering school, most notably in biology and in newly emerging fields. In short, reorganization of the university that facilitates closer connections between engineering schools (and other professional schools) and their major “customers” should not occur at the expense of needed integration.3
The implications of the Condit-Pipes “Global University” vision are somewhat different for Japan. Most of the Japanese task force members find the vision very attractive and even compelling for Japan. The Japanese members believe that Japanese engineering schools and universities in general need to become much more responsive to the needs of employers and individual students. Promoting the utilization of information technology (distance learning in particular) and more flexible institutional approaches would allow movement beyond today's “just in case” educational paradigms in which learning is concentrated in degree programs in the hope that it will be useful.4 Already, “just in time” learning approaches are emerging, with education provided when and where it is required. In the future, customized “just for you” educational services will be developed to meet the needs of individuals.
Japan faces significant barriers to implementing new educational approaches. For example, the strong role of the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture (Monbusho) in funding, setting curriculum, and certifying universities leads to greater uniformity in approaches across Japanese universities. The Japanese members believe that the problems such as excessive uniformity and large class sizes are more acute at private universities.5 In addition, the emphasis in Japanese society on the university's credentialing role, as seen in the importance of the university entrance examination and the hiring practices of companies, means that students are less motivated to develop clear targets for university study. The Japanese group believes that university curricula should be more flexible and responsive to societal needs, and that students should be provided with more intensive guidance in these early university years to choose appropriate subjects. Since no one university can be expected to contain all of what is required in the future, the Japanese members believe that expanded exchanges among schools utilizing distance learning will be necessary.