Effort, dedication, and critical evaluation are put forward to keep institutions running. With over five thousand colleges and universities, an incredible impact has been made, setting America’s education standards apart from the rest of the world (Liyanage et al., 2019). One of the most prominent learning institutions is Stanford University, established in 1885 (Liyanage et al., 2019). Many well-wishers, the school, government, and non-governmental organizations contribute every year to the school to accommodate scholarships for international students, those who have an intelligent mind but cannot afford quality education in their mother countries.
The field of education sets a series of standards and trends that universities must adhere to in order to take a leading position. To identify the strengths and weaknesses of Stanford, the environmental scan will be based on the traditional STEEP framework, which focuses on the factors: Society, Technology, Economy, Environment, and Politics (Fergnani, 2021). Each factor, along with trends within it and their impact on Stanford, will be briefly assessed one by one.
- Society. Evidently, psychological awareness and an increased interest in mental health and its impact on academic performance and quality of life set certain requirements, including for higher education institutions. The pandemic has added intensity to this effect. Moreover, there is a need to promote the principles of diversity and inclusion.
- Technology. Technological trends in higher education such as innovative and robotic learning, the use of AI in assessment, and career software that is a digital assistant in career development (Marcus, 2020). Some high schools are implementing subscription payment method that allows students to turn to learn certain skills when they need them without being tied to a schedule.
- Economy. Perhaps one of the most significant changes taking place in many economies around the world is an adaptation to the tools to combat the climate crisis. Specialties in the field of environmental engineering, high technology, and alternative energy will be in high demand in the coming decades. Educational institutions are responsible for the training of relevant professionals.
- Environment. Given the aforementioned trend, it is important for universities to adhere to the principles of sustainable development in their campus organization.
- Politics. Universities are clusters in which, among other things, political ideas emerge, often flowing into radicalism (Fajar, 2018). Therefore, while discussion of vulnerable political topics should not be prohibited, it is important to consider and regulate this feature of higher institutions.
Trends Analysis Application
Stanford is doing an excellent job of introducing technology and innovation, including AI, into educational processes. The university has also managed to adapt courses and educational programs for economic challenges. For example, Stanford has created a new chair for the study of the climate crisis and its effects (Nietzel, 2021). In addition, when it comes to sustainability, Stanford takes its carbon footprint and non-financial reporting seriously and implements important sustainable principles on campus (Stanford, 2021). However, it is worth continuing in this direction and instilling useful eco-habits in students. Finally, political freedom at Stanford is unlimited, as evidenced by a large number of movements and political research. Radical views are not marked as a problem point of the university.
The Society aspect represents by far the most critical issue within Stanford University, as evidenced by the overwhelming amount of discussion on campus about emotional harshness and minority insecurity. Even with this success, Stanford students struggle with mental health, affordability, lack of welcome in the university, and racial discrimination, the most significant problems affecting the institution (Stanford University, n.d.) (Thompson, 2018) (Stanford University, 2021). Moreover, students complain about the lack of a supportive environment supporting freedom of speech and unity spirit.
Stanford University is diverse in terms of the origin of the students in the school. Diversity is a good factor in helping the students learn about different cultures as they associate in their learning process. Being a student at Stanford means a high level of competition and rigorous learning. Such high stress makes the students struggle with mental problems as they compete to be the best (Liyanage et al., 2019). Another problem is the high cost of living in the university. Housing expenses, food, and upkeep make the students work two or three jobs to manage the cost of living, negatively impacting their academics. Another crucial factor is Stanford’s culture of not being welcoming. Students face this during the admission phase and suffer throughout the study period, leading to school dropouts. A sad note of racial discrimination sums all this up; some students have used social platforms like Twitter to express racial discrimination, disrupting the learning process as the offended students fight back for their rights (Liyanage et al., 2019). Such challenges disrupt the education process and bring inefficiency to the study curriculum.
Efficient countermeasures should be implemented to fight all these problems and create a suitable planning model. The issue of high stress experienced by the students has led to students living miserable lives in school and some developing mental problems. The school should implement a guidance and counseling team with compulsory sessions with therapists where each student should be evaluated, assessed, and advised later. The government should give directives to reduce the cost of services around the campus to allow the students to afford them. The university should organize teams of students according to different categories such as regions of origin, courses, and religious beliefs, which should be incorporated together to form more defined categories. Students should be allocated one of these groups during the admission process to help them feel more welcomed by people with whom they share common interests. The Stanford Board of committee and directors should implement strict repercussions for students who try to discriminate against other students by race.
Some significant strengths in the planning and execution process are that students in anti-racism movements will work together to implement discrimination rules. Additionally, with the help of student leaders and club leaders, students will create groups willingly to help welcome their fellow students. Some of the foreseen challenges are that the government may not have full authority to direct the campus service providers to lower the costs because most are privately owned. One unforeseen challenge might be the unwillingness of students to open up to therapists during the sessions. The campus should create awareness of the importance of counseling to solve the problem of failure to open up. The government should also contribute by building amenities such as hostels and canteens with subsidized services.
Another area that could be improved, although it is well embodied on the Stanford campus, is sustainable development. There are a few gaps that can be easily accommodated to keep up with trends and an urge for sustainability. Firstly, it is the promotion of eco-friendly habits in students through nudges. Initiatives of this kind include, for example, fountains of water in place of vender cars with cryptic bottles or subscriptions to electric bicycles. Secondly, the university can increase its share of renewable energy sources. This will certainly have a big impact on Stanford’s carbon footprint.
The strength of the first initiative is the cultivation of a supportive green culture that teaches students mindfulness. The use of bicycles can also positively affect the physical activity on campuses. The second solution will reduce spending on energy consumption and may help Stanford to improve its ranking among sustainable universities. The challenge may lie in the additional costs of these initiatives, but given the intensity of the trends and the climate crisis, these costs may be deemed necessary.
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