Why Academics With No Time Should Read ‘8 Billion and Counting’ | Inside Higher Ed


The cover of 8 Billion and Counting, a vertical gradient from red to pale blue.8 Billion and Counting: How Sex, Death, and Migration Shape Our World by Jennifer D. Sciubba

Revealed in March 2022

The largest danger that larger schooling leaders face is specializing in the pressing over the essential.

This danger is magnified by what I choose to be a structural understaffing disaster throughout our universities. Whereas the tutorial fantasy of administrative bloat persists, the fact is that fewer teachers (each college and directors) are doing extra work.

The upshot is that the majority larger schooling leaders spend their days (and evenings and weekends) placing out fires the place they need to be devoting thought and energy to addressing extra existential long-term challenges.

Maybe the best of those long-term challenges is demography.

Readers of Nathan Grawe’s books, Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education and The Agile College: How Institutions Successfully Navigate Demographic Changes, know full nicely the demographic headwinds confronting larger schooling.

If Grawe bought you curious about demography, then Sciubba’s 8 Billion and Counting is good for offering a broader perspective on inhabitants science.

Now, after all, I’m biased. Having trained as a social demographer, I’m hardwired to like any guide about fertility, mortality, morbidity and migration.

Demography will not be future, however it’s shut. In 8 Billion and Counting, Sciubba (a political demographer) does a incredible job illuminating the most important inhabitants developments impacting the U.S. and the world.

Among the many developments mentioned in 8 Billion and Counting that each larger schooling chief wants to concentrate to are the fast growing older and rising variety of the U.S. inhabitants and the expansion (and younger age buildings) of rising economies.

Over the following 25 years, the proportion of the U.S. inhabitants aged 65 and older will enhance from 17 to 22 %. Throughout these identical years, the median age within the U.S. will climb from 38 to 41. The magnitude and tempo of U.S. inhabitants growing older just isn’t a pattern that larger schooling as an business has totally absorbed.

Studying 8 Billion and Counting ought to trigger college presidents, trustees and chief monetary officers to prioritize a long-term transition of instructional packages and campus services towards serving the wants of an older inhabitants.

At what number of schools and universities is managing inhabitants growing older a vital strategic precedence? An older inhabitants has implications for enrollments and tutorial packages and worker recruitment and retention, campus design, advertising, branding, fundraising, analysis priorities, and sure most each different facet associated to institutional success.

Taking a global perspective, 8 Billion and Counting is especially sturdy at describing inhabitants developments throughout rising economies. For each child born in a rich nation, almost 10 are born throughout rising nations.

The U.S. is relatively well-off in the case of total inhabitants developments, as our inhabitants will proceed to develop over the many years to return (going from 330 million immediately to almost 400 million by 2050). In distinction, absent vital immigration reform, the populations of many now-wealthy international locations will shrink over the next many years. The inhabitants in Japan will decline from 127 million to 105 million by 2050, whereas Italy will likely be nearer to 50 million than 60 million in the identical interval.

In distinction, international locations within the rising world are rising shortly and have comparatively younger populations. Whereas in Japan, the median age is sort of 49, within the fastest-growing growing international locations, the median age is beneath 25. As Sciubba explains in 8 Billion and Counting, there’s a sturdy correlation between younger age buildings and political instability.

There isn’t any manner that India or the international locations of Africa will be capable to assemble sufficient campus-based universities over the following 30 years to serve all these looking for a university schooling. What number of U.S. universities immediately are considering significantly a couple of future the place a lot of their college students come from Africa? When 1 / 4 of the world’s inhabitants is African by 2050, each establishment of upper studying might want to have an African technique to be related.

Studying 8 Billion and Counting will assist us in academia be taught the language, the developments and the most important points associated to inhabitants dynamics.

Any guide that encourages us to step again from the fast and take into consideration the long run is an effective funding of time.

Because the each day work of educational life turns into ever extra frenetic, a big-picture guide like 8 Billion and Counting will be a superb antidote to the hazards of short-term institutional considering.

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