Innovative Higher Education: My Blog

Over the past new year, my career has taken an exciting turn. In my capacity as the Director of the Energy, Resources and Environment program at Johns Hopkins SAIS and as an instructor for ViaX Online Education, a Beijing-based learning and education company, I have grappled with the challenges of innovation in higher education. Thanks to this work, I have come to appreciate the incredible challenges and opportunities that higher education faces.

This blog, generously sponsored by ViaX, is a vehicle for me to share what I learn on this rollercoaster ride. It has been a year since I started as the Director of a stellar graduate program in my field. It must be clear by now to my students, colleagues, and overlords that I was not ready for what was to come.

While I was up to speed on traditional higher education, I did not realize how deep and rapid the ongoing transformation is. It still blows my mind away, actually. The stereotype of academia is a gallery of dusty old professors writing obscure papers, but in reality this is an incredibly dynamic and competitive industry.

I have no masterplan for this blog. I am going to write about innovations in higher education, focusing on all three pillars of our business: teaching, research, and the public square. Here’s what I hope to offer:

  • For students, I hope to offer insights into the most exciting and disruptive trends in higher education.
  • For fellow instructors and administrators, I may be able to offer some ideas for how to step up their game.
  • For my fellow researchers, I am quite confident I can teach a trick or two about productivity.

I am initially going to write just once a month, simply because there are so many amazing things to do and to avoid a miniature burnout. I may write more often in the future if the blog gains traction and gives meaning to my life.

The next blog will likely be about Zoom, a game-changing technology for online conferencing and lecturing. Sign up for updates!


About the Author

Johannes Urpelainen is the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Professor and Director of Energy, Resources and Environment at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (Washington DC, USA). He is the Founding Director of the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP). He serves as a senior advisor for ViaX Online Education, a a Beijing-based learning and education company.


Johannes Urpelainen works as a senior advisor for ViaX Online Education. The views presented in this blog are the author’s alone.