A quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson goes something like, "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people." The actuality is that Mr. Jefferson apparently never said those exact words. However, perversely the fact that I know he did not use those exact words proves his point. And just as important is the context. The argument about education comes in a letter to Charles Yancey while arguing for public education, including university education. The exact words about democracy and education are, "if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was & never will be." And I am not overstating my education or memory. Instead, the point is that I learned how to research the background of this famous quote.
This is an example of an outcome of my university education. My professors insisted that I needed to be curious and skeptical. They insisted we as students should always seek out the source of knowledge and not rely on others' opinions or conjectures. Further, I was educated on how to conduct that original research. I could find the original letter to Mr. Yancey from Mr. Jefferson and read the quote and the context. This letter is an interesting read, as are most of Mr. Jefferson's letters, but that is an aside.
I need to be clear, I was not a history major though I am a history buff. I was not a Political Science major either though I took the LSAT for fun one time. Nope, I was a statistics major. However, I received the basics of a liberal arts education that formed the foundation of my critical thinking skills and research skills. To Mr. Jefferson, this training was essential for democracy. Otherwise, Mr. Jefferson felt any government has a propensity to erode the liberty and property of the people. Education and skepticism could be a stalwart against this degradation of personal liberty. Therefore, that benefit alone might seem enough 'value' of college education to society. However, I would argue there is more.
An economic impact and multiplier develops from college education on the macro level. The evidence seems compelling. In 2003, Sianesi and Reenen concluded in their article in the Journal of Economic Surveys that each year of University education increased overall GDP by 3 to 6%. The increase in education also increased the rate of growth in GDP in the United Kingdom. The research has built on these findings to conclude that it is not just attendance but the quality of the education that leads to the "strong evidence that the cognitive skills of the population - rather than mere school attainment - are powerfully related to individual earnings, to the distribution of income, and to economic growth." Page 1 (2008) Hanushek and Woessmann, World Bank Working Paper 4122. These are just two of literally hundreds of papers empirically demonstrating that college or university education accelerates economic development.
It is apparent that University educations transform the individual, and through those educated individuals, their society. For over 200 years, the foundation of democracy has had education as a pillar. In addition, for almost as long, the innovation and drive that lead to economic prosperity have come from the same source. In the next post, we begin looking at the actual mechanisms that lead to university education.
Many of you know that I am teaching B2B marketing #b2b #b2bmarketing using LinkedIn as the platform for the students to learn how to manage both a LeadGen and ABM campaign. Some may also know of my firm conviction that a university education is a transformative event. Combining these two important aspects of my life has led to this latest endeavor. I will be posting links to my blogs on the value ofHere are my essays.