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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The first universities

The first universitiesThe tower of the University of Coimbra, the oldest Portuguese university.

The tower of the University of Coimbra, the oldest Portuguese university.

Degree ceremony at the University of Oxford. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor in MA gown
and hood, Proctor in official dress and new Doctors of Philosophy in scarlet
full dress. Behind them, a bedel, another Doctor and Bachelors of Arts and
Medicine.Relative to the above definition, there is controversy as to which
university is the world's oldest. The original Latin word "universitas", first
used in time of renewed interest in Classical Greek and Roman tradition, tried
to reflect this feature of the Academy of Plato. The earliest recorded
institution of higher learnings was Shang Hsiang, and later Taixue and Guozijian
serve as the highest level of educational establishment while academies became
very popular as non-governmental establishments teaching Confucianism and
Chinese literature among other things. The choice for the oldest university is
usually among Nalanda, Constantinople, Al Karaouine or Al-Azhar universities.
Nalanda University, founded in Bihar, India around the 5th century BC conferred
academic degree titles to its graduates, while also offering post-graduate
courses. Another Indian university whose ruins were only recently excavated was
Ratnagiri University in Orissa. Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo, Egypt in
the 10th century, offered a variety of post-graduate degrees, and is often
regarded as the first full-fledged university. The University of Constantinople,
founded in 849, by the regent Bardas of emperor Michail III, is generally
considered the first institution of higher learning with the characteristics we
associate today with a university (research and teaching, auto-administration,
academic independence, et cetera). The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes
the University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco as the oldest university in the
world with its founding in 859. For more on early universities see List of
oldest universities in continuous operation.

Corporate universities

Corporate Universities (CUs) are a growing trend in companies. Corporate
Universities are anything from a pumped up training department to a degree
granting branch of major companies. Denise Hearn in her article "Education in
the Workplace: An Examination of Corporate University Models" cites these
statistics: In 1993, corporate universities existed in only 400 companies. In
2001, this number jumped to 2,000. This number is only expected to grow in the
future. Although changes in the economy may alter that growth to some extent,
this trend is still receiving attention from such companies as Walt Disney,
Boeing, and Motorola.


Lisa Tanner of the Dallas Business Journal cites J.P. Morgan and Co. as an
example of a company with an organized curriculum. They have three different
types of courses: Business specific courses, organizational learning and
communication classes, and management and executive training. What your company
decides to offer will depend on your needs (such as sales training, marketing,
or soft skills) and your company's business (like manufacturing, consulting, or

Most CUs offer a blended curriculum of online and in person classes. Some
organizations offer courses during the workday while other offer them at varying
times. Courses can be short workshops or longer, more traditional courses.

Sharon Shinn of BizEd reminds readers that, unlike traditional universities, CUs
demand a return on their investment. There must be concrete evidence that the
classroom is delivering results. Many CUs provide hands-on and team learning as
a more effective alternative to lecture-based courses, but all CUs agree that
what is learned in the classroom should be directly applicable to the work

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