Chapter IV: Imagining Missouri's Future

In order for Missouri State University students to be educated and successful in the fullest sense, the process of incubating new ideas must also be accompanied by informed discussion, debate, and understanding of the uses, values, and purposes of new discoveries and creative products. What implications will such advances have for how individuals live and work? How will they affect our local communities and our global partners? What risks might they pose, and what dangers could they reduce? How should new discoveries be regulated, by whom, and for what duration of time?

Missouri State must assure that its education of students prepares them to confront these and many other vexing questions. To do so, the University must provide educational experiences that:

  • Stimulate informed dialogue and scholarly engagement about public policy
  • Afford students the best that can be offered in terms of global education
  • Support special research efforts that will address the most substantial problems our local communities are likely to confront in the future

Ultimately, to imagine a well-conceived future, the University should insist on rigorous expectations for its students, and it must be clear about what it means to be well-educated for the 21st century. There are five traits of educated students:

They cultivate their aesthetic tastes – Educated students push their creative limits and stretch their aesthetic appreciation. The University years are a great time for students to sharpen their eyes for art, tune their ears to music, and turn their minds to all kinds of dramatic and creative expression.

They become critical thinkers – They can discern what is a sturdy basis for knowledge and beliefs versus what is mere bias or preference. Universities should recruit people away from illusions and toward truth. One of the main goals of a first-rate university is to teach students how to think and reason well, and that is what we will ask students to embrace as a personal goal.

They are serious readers who become broadly literate – Reading is the vehicle by which students travel and learn their own interiors. It introduces them to the life of the mind, and it opens windows on their own lives. Habitual reading remains one of life’s single most empowering and liberating activities.

They dedicate themselves to becoming curious and contributing citizens – Students need to find a personal intellectual interest that captures their hearts and drives them to approach each day eager to learn a little more. Students need to grow an obsession for some area of knowledge where they insist on being an expert and through which they make a difference for others. This specific expertise also should be complemented by an understanding of the global issues that effective citizens need to develop throughout their lives. Further, students need to develop the skills necessary for successful collaboration and teamwork.

They balance an in-depth mastery of at least one academic discipline with a broad appreciation of the liberal arts – By the time they graduate, students should be extremely capable in the academic field of their choosing. But that specialty should be built on a broad educational foundation to help provide context and understanding.

Academic philosophy

The focus of Missouri State’s mission continues to be the development of educated persons who have an understanding of themselves and the diverse social and natural world in which they live, who are creative people of vision, and who are capable of making informed and meaningful decisions. These educated persons should possess the five traits previously identified. In order to achieve these aims, it is essential that the faculty, staff, and administration of Missouri State University serve as role models and leaders.

The mission of the University, with its rededicated emphasis upon student learning as its primary purpose, and with a statewide mission in public affairs, acknowledges that teaching, scholarship, and service are to be regarded as integrated, complementary activities. The University’s new performance-based compensation system will reward faculty who excel in these three areas, as well as provide a stronger basis for the granting of promotion, tenure, and salary increases.

Academic departments, schools, and colleges support both the individual and collective efforts of faculty in fulfilling their obligations to the University and the public they serve. These units have several important responsibilities:

  • To critically examine the curriculum (both major programs of study and individual courses) using a variety of available measures. Programs and courses that are not appropriate for the University mission should be eliminated, while those that are should be strengthened, subject to resource constraints.
  • To review their offerings in light of providing effective, efficient learning experiences for students. Unnecessary duplication of courses and sections, frequent offering of low enrollment courses, and inefficient use of facilities and resources must be avoided.
  • To expand the use of instructional technologies, both within and outside the classroom, in order to improve efficiency, enhance student learning, expand accessibility, and support collaborative offerings among institutions.
  • To achieve the goal of increased partnerships, Missouri State campuses, departments, schools and colleges will pursue and promote cooperative and collaborative programs and learning experiences. Some examples that are currently in place or will be pursued include:
    • Partnerships with Springfield Public Schools to provide a seamless experience in K-16 and to enhance student learning through improved teaching skills and accessibility to courses. Faculty exchanges with the R-12 school system, the University’s participation in the eMints program, and the Missouri Virtual School will continue.
    • Joint offerings with other institutions, at both the graduate and undergraduate level. On the horizon is a cooperative undergraduate engineering program with the University of Missouri-Rolla in civil and electrical engineering. That will be added to the undergraduate partnerships in education with Crowder Community College, Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC), and Missouri State University-West Plains; undergraduate partnerships between Missouri State and Crowder College in Agriculture and Industrial Management; a cooperative doctorate in educational leadership with the University of Missouri-Columbia; and a cooperative Master of Arts in Teaching degree program with Missouri Southern State University; and a cooperative Master of Arts in Library of Science with the University of Missouri-Columbia.
    • Accelerated graduate degree programs with Springfield-area colleges and universities in areas where Missouri State can address unmet needs.
    • Cooperative efforts, both at the graduate level and undergraduate level, with a number of international institutions, particularly in Asia.
    • Possible creation of a College of Public Health, which, along with the Ozarks Public Health Institute, will promote collaborative program development both within the University and outside the University.
    • Joint ventures with business and industry to provide improved opportunities for Missouri State students and faculty. The most notable venture to date is the JVIC, which includes the Center for Applied Sciences and Engineering (CASE) and the Center for Biomedical and Life Sciences (CBLS). JVIC/CASE/CBLS not only benefit the University, community, and a host of businesses, but also will increase Missouri State’s research activity in the sciences.

In an effort to support lifelong learning and to be of service to the community, it will be necessary to provide and promote nontraditional learning experiences. The Center for Continuing and Professional Education and Ozarks Public Television will use their expanded facilities to offer additional non-credit opportunities for people in the metropolitan community served by the University.

Public affairs

On June 16, 1995, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan signed into law Senate Bill 340 which gave Missouri State University a statewide mission in public affairs. This mission defines a primary way in which a Missouri State education is different from that of other universities and one way by which we educate our students to imagine the future.

The United States, a pluralist gathering of races and cultures, banded together not by blood or religion, by territory or tradition, but by a political idea, is a nation formed by its dedication to civic principles. These principles embedded in our fundamental national documents make it clear that American citizens are expected to fulfill civic responsibilities by competent participation in public affairs. The obligations of civic participation are not unique to Americans but are incumbent on all those who are fortunate enough to live in democratic republics.

A leading American political thinker and statesman, Thomas Jefferson, contended that the status of "citizen" called for every member of the community to become involved in the business of society. To imagine the future, the University has a special responsibility to educate students about social goals, public purposes and values, and the ethics of citizenship as well as to encourage students to have a personal sense of responsibility for the global society.

Good citizenship takes place at several different levels. Students are members of multiple communities–the University, the neighborhood, the city, and the state, as well as the nation. Students also are citizens in a larger philosophical sense. Students belong to a moral community composed of all human beings. The members of the Missouri State campus community affirm their citizenship in the larger world community by ensuring that differences of nationality, ethnicity, or social-economic class do not become barriers between us. Helping students become responsible citizens at these different levels takes time and deliberate efforts on the part of all educators.

Public affairs in higher education is not restricted to politics, humanities, or the social sciences. It is present in all areas of life that require knowledge, participation, civic skills, and the willingness to work for the common good. Public affairs involves educating persons to become responsible citizens and leaders. The University should define the skills of responsible citizenship and ensure that its unique education develops these skills.

In order to educate for public life and for the future, the University must foster a community where all individuals are called upon to respond to public affairs issues and to develop a sense of public spiritedness, tolerance, and understanding of multicultural concerns. Students are exposed to a common core of knowledge through the General Education Program in order to promote the general welfare of community, state, nation, and globe. This common core imparts historical and comparative perspectives on public affairs–e.g., problems of order, justice, liberty, equality, stability, and avoidance of civil and international strife. Capstone courses allow the student to investigate in depth a particular social problem or issue of his or her choice.

Education in public affairs should be a recognizable and measurable goal. Public affairs, while not a curriculum, must be present and expressed through all academic disciplines. Students are taught how to communicate effectively in the public sphere through the arts, through logic, and through the written and spoken word. They are exposed to ethical and global issues; political, environmental, and technological concerns; and issues of human diversity. Teachers are prepared for public and private schools, underscoring the importance of educated persons for a flourishing civic society. Scientific and social research are used to promote a healthy citizenry which is vital to stable and productive societies. Students are educated to participate in our democratic society as fully involved and informed citizens; and science and the environment are studied to promote environmentally responsible growth. Being exposed to these issues in public affairs will help develop the student’s capacity to analyze and resolve contemporary problems in the metropolitan area, in the nation, and in the international community.

Public affairs education takes place not only in the public space of the classroom, but also outside the University. Internships, field experiences, practicums, cooperative projects, government service, volunteer programs, and residential life programs that help develop leaders all contribute to inculcating in students a sense of individual and community responsibility.

Community outreach through public affairs research centers, adult continuing education, distance learning courses, public broadcasting, and telecommunication linkages with other universities will use faculty expertise to address state and community problems. Missouri State’s commitment to its statewide mission also is reflected in campus lectures on public issues in which the community is invited to participate. The challenge presented by a focus on public affairs, however, is not just about what kind of curriculum, community service or public forums should be in place. It is about discovering solutions to the problems that all citizens face as members of a democratic society in a world shared by many.

International programs

We live in a world of increasingly political, economic, social, cultural, linguistic, environmental, and geo-strategic interdependence and complexity that requires educated persons to have a global frame of reference. Therefore, Missouri State University must provide its students, faculty, and administrators, as well as the community it serves, with cross-cultural experiences that develop mutual understanding and respect of cultural differences.

To develop these abilities and sensibilities is part of a college education that prepares students for their future obligation to become active global participants and citizens. For this reason, Missouri State University is committed to provide all stakeholders with increased opportunities for educational and experiential exchanges and study tours, and contacts with foreign students and scholars on campus.

To fulfill its obligations to be an effective force for global understanding, the University will pursue several strategies, including:

  • Promoting global citizenship by emphasizing international issues and perspectives in its course offerings
  • Enhancing international opportunities for students, faculty, administrators, and community members by participation in study abroad programs (semester, summer), study tours (short-term), experiential programs, and global issue events on campus and in the community
  • Establishing joint academic programs with international programs leading to diplomas, degrees, or certificates, and dual degree options
  • Increasing Missouri State’s visibility abroad in order to attract more international students, teachers, and scholars to this institution. This will require aggressive, consistent, and coherent recruitment strategies, including personal contacts between Missouri State faculty/administrators and international colleagues and advertising through multiple media
  • Enhancing curriculum and programmatic offerings with a global focus, especially by strengthening courses and programs in foreign languages, comparative studies, international affairs, globalization, and aspects of interdependence
  • Strengthening research collaboration with foreign scholars in such areas as business, agriculture, industrial development, technology, physical and biological sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities
  • Hosting seminars, workshops, exhibitions, and other programs at various locations and with a variety of client groups, with home, host, and guest personnel serving as resources
  • Focusing our efforts at globalization on regions of the world that offer the best opportunities, including Latin America, Europe and the former Soviet Union, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and on select countries in each of these regions
  • Focusing on relationships with key universities or research institutions in these various regions
  • Increasing the number of foreign students attending Missouri State or enrolling in a University outreach program abroad to at least 800, or 4 to 5 percent of the student population
  • Doubling the number of foreign students attending the English Language Institute (ELI) to at least 100 students annually
  • Doubling the number of visiting scholars (J-1 and H1-B visa holders) to at least 50 scholars annually
  • Doubling the number of Missouri State students going abroad during exchange and study-abroad programs to at least 300 students annually
  • Doubling the number of students participating in study tours, experiential learning experiences, and other short-term programs to at least 120 students
  • Increasing the opportunities for Missouri State faculty to go abroad or interact formally with foreign faculty through such avenues as international conferences, collaborative research, and public forums
  • Offering an interdisciplinary Global Studies Major, beginning in 2007, which includes a significant foreign language component
  • Establishing and fully implementing the Office of International Programs under the leadership of a Director of International Affairs, who will be responsible for administering and overseeing internationalization efforts and programs at Missouri State. This office will report to the Provost via the Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College

The Community and Social Issues Institute

A major way in which the University can help imagine the future is to form centers that assemble faculty and student talent and focus that talent on those issues that loom as the biggest threats to a progressive future. The Community and Social Issues Institute (CSII) has been developed with this purpose prominently in mind.

The mission of the Community and Social Issues Institute is to provide high-quality research and data that accurately and honestly portray social conditions and problems in the community. The Institute will work with existing agencies to develop strategies that address and remediate significant social problems. The Institute’s research can range from studies that generate primary data to projects that focus on evaluating program effectiveness.

One example of a social problem that could be attacked by the Institute is risk-related behavior, particularly by youth. Young people often are drawn to risky behavior (examples include alcohol and drug use, sexual behaviors, tobacco use) because of psychological temperament, physiological predispositions, peer pressure, and feelings of invincibility. These behaviors are usually established during early childhood, strengthened in adolescence, and persist into adulthood. In addition to causing serious dysfunctions and health problems, these behaviors also contribute to the educational and social problems that confront the nation, including failure to complete high school, unemployment and crime. For example, children living around or near methamphetamine production and use face double jeopardy: they are often victims of different types of abuse; and, they tend to take on risky behavior patterns that follow them throughout their youth and persist into their adult lives.

The Institute will focus its research efforts on:

  • Collaborating and complementing efforts of the many agencies that are serving the citizens of southwest Missouri (for example, the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, Inc. is sponsoring the Methamphetamine Awareness Project)
  • Working with non-profit and government agencies to conduct a gap analysis of types of data that are required to monitor the community’s social health over time
  • Developing and maintaining indicators that enable the community to monitor social issues
  • Sponsoring and promoting faculty research focusing on specific community problems and issues
  • Becoming self-supporting and sustaining through internal investment and by seeking external funds through grants and contracts for services
  • Partnering in the overall network of agencies that are providing essential social services to the community. Its role will be to complement existing agencies while avoiding duplication of services already being rendered

As a first step to build the CSII, the University will recruit a senior-level scholar to serve as the Director.