Reinventing the University to Foster and Serve Postformal Thinkers

  • Jan D. Sinnott
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


In this chapter, we will explore the changes needed in the university as a learning institution in light of our understanding of complex postformal thinking processes. Recently, Lynn Johnson and I have written extensively about the ideas you will see outlined here (Sinnott & Johnson, 1996). If postformal thought is a valuable characteristic of mature adult cognition, the university would be the ideal place to foster it and to use its special logic. Since the university as an institution is currently under attack from many constituencies (e.g., Anderson, 1992), and since it already is undergoing considerable reform, why not consider a broadly restructured model of the university at this point in history? This chapter’s discussion includes a rationale for a new model of the university, a discussion of the several possible purposes of adult learning in a historical context (some in special advanced institutions such as the university), and a summary of a model of university structure that would serve the university and its mature adult learners in more useful and cognitively appropriate postformal ways.


Adult Learning Learning Institution Complex Thought Problem Focus Research Park 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan D. Sinnott
    • 1
  1. 1.Towson UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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