Do our universities need to change?

Susie Pearn and Ian Harper | 14 August 2019 | 24:38


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Universities are ancient institutions, with the world’s oldest – the University of Al-Karaouine in Fez, Morocco – founded in 859 AD. They have long been considered the melting pot of society’s ideas, culture and change, responsible for kickstarting social revolutions such as the 1968 protests that saw students across the world march against the Vietnam War.

Some of their customs, such as the cap and gown which adorned during graduation ceremonies, have stood the test of time, while others are dramatically changing.

Against the backdrop of new technologies, what role will universities play in the future? Will the advent of digital learning mean that university campuses become a thing of the past?

In this episode of Engineering Reimagined, Professor Ian Harper, Dean of Melbourne Business School at the University of Melbourne and Susie Pearn, Client Director for Education and Research at Aurecon, discuss how universities need to reimagine their futures and what role engineers can play to help them achieve this transformation. We also explore the connections between universities and businesses.

Meet our guest and host

Learn more about Susie Pearn and Ian Harper.

Susie Pearn, Aurecon

Susie Pearn

Former Industry Leader, Education and Research, Aurecon

“I'm questioning more the role that an engineer can play in educating an accountant or educating a strategy consultant through the application of the design capability that we have in terms of co-design, creativity, iteration and the like.”

Susie has more than 20 years of experience in social infrastructure. She has held lead management roles in the planning and delivery of numerous infrastructure programmes and projects, including several over one billion U.S. dollars in value.

Her advisory skillset and asset management background brings a diverse perspective to her role. She has an interest in the convergence of education and research services, infrastructure and technology and how these can help create a new paradigm with better outcomes. Susie is passionate about having a positive impact on people’s lives through education and research.

Ian Harper

Ian Harper

Dean of Melbourne Business School at The University of Melbourne

“You don't want universities to change too rapidly because they have an important role in curating: that is to preserve, look after, the stock of human understanding and knowledge.”

Ian is an Australian economist best known for his work in public policy, who has worked with governments, banks, corporates and leading professional services firms at the highest levels. In 2016, he was appointed to the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia and chaired the Federal Government’s Competition Policy Review, a “root and branch” review of Australia’s competition policy, laws and regulators. He is also a Senior Advisor to Deloitte Access Economics Pty Ltd.

Ian has authored several books such as Confessions of a Meddlesome Economist and Economics for Life, which won the Australian Christian Book of the Year Award. He became the sixth dean of Melbourne Business School at the University of Melbourne in March 2018.

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