Globalization and Faculty Work in the United States

December 2015

The academic profession has changed with startling abruptness, even as the transformation has gone quietly unnoticed by the public, elected officials and, surprisingly, many professors themselves.


The impact of globalization on faculty work is uncertain. But adaptations by institutions driven by economic and social competitiveness, workforce mobility, a radically changed classroom paradigm, and waning academic professionalism already parallel unprecedented innovations in information communication technologies. Changing realities of who academic workers are, how they are qualified, where and how they work, who they teach, how learning is certified, and how education’s impact on economies and societies is measured have altered the professoriate in myriad ways. The author of this paper argues that recognizing and understanding how globalization is transforming faculty work provides the only viable means to guide and shape the academic workforce America needs today.

Key Insights
Globalization affects institutional capacity and purpose in various ways and, in turn, forces changes in the composition of academic workforces and the nature of the work done to achieve evolving missions.
The routinization, unbundling, specialization, and global transactional nature of teaching and learning within the knowledge services sector is transforming how individuals enter, perform in, move about, and exit the physical and virtual workplace.
The classroom is transforming into a global learning environment without the constraints that have defined learning until now.
As a consequence of the global shift from teaching to learning, academic professionalism is eroding, as is the role of higher education as both a provider of public good and a means of providing for future social improvement on a global scale.

The author based his conclusions on personal observations and a comprehensive review of the literature on how globalization is transforming the academic workforce.