Restoring Community

Higher Education for a New Century

I recently had the pleasure of representing the IIRP at the New York Times Higher Ed Leaders Forum. Racial equity, free speech, and the arrival of Generation Z on campus were some important topics that inspired passionate discussion. However, higher education is undergoing changes that are less obvious than these headline-grabbing themes. These changes might transform our entire concept of college, university and adult learning.

There is a widespread perception that the return on investment in higher education is unclear. Beyond the cost of tuition, recent research indicates that the learning experience frequently fails to reliably develop the competencies that students and employers value most.

The IIRP is a graduate institution designed for the 21st century. Learning centers on real-life, personal and professional challenges and projects. Most of our students remain engaged in their current job roles while they study.

The benefits of this education to the outside world can be clearly seen in these pages: helping adolescents avert violence and bullying; allowing communities to talk about their most divisive issues, etc.

Our courses are largely blended, asynchronous and online — allowing our students to participate from anywhere in the world.

Traditional, professor-centric classroom learning increasingly cannot compete with new tech-savvy, adaptive and blended learning. The next generation expects an education experience that is engaging, flexible and student-centered.

Here, faculty-centric lectures have generally been replaced by faculty-facilitated online group engagement. Our mission and curriculum, while universally beneficial, are highly specialized. This is a strategic strength. It means that IIRP faculty are the world’s leading experts in the ideas and competencies they teach. You can read about them in this magazine.

The future of higher education will encompass a wide range of smaller, nimbler, more specialized niche providers delivering competency-focused learning that is highly responsive to students’ and employers’ needs. There will be increased demand for skills-specific learning that teaches quantifiable hard and soft skills that employers value and students can use immediately.

At the IIRP, simple governance structures, lean leadership hierarchies and a culture of innovation mean that we can devote time and resources to student support, content creation and innovative delivery methods. We focus on the things that matter most to our students.

Higher education needs are changing fast. In a future of greatly increased options, the IIRP will push this innovation curve by offering increased creativity and responsiveness to better meet the needs of 21st century learners.

John W. Bailie, Ph.D. 


John W. Bailie, Ph.D., is President of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). Dr. Bailie is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences on education reform and civil society development. He has initiated major research projects on restorative practices in schools and frequently publishes on the application of restorative practices in leadership, social innovation, adult learning and education reform.

Dr. Bailie is also Visiting Faculty, Teachers College, Columbia University. He studied English, art and military science at Norwich University and accounting and logistics at the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School. He received his Master of Restorative Practices and Youth Counseling from the IIRP; Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership from MIT and holds a Ph.D. in Education and Adult Learning from Lesley University.

Dr. Bailie lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his wife Erin, their four children and an ever-growing array of pets.

Twitter: @JohnBailieIIRP
LinkedIn: John W. Bailie, Ph.D.
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Blog: Leading Conflict