Reinventing the University: Sessions 1 and 2

Reinventing the University: Sessions 1 and 2

June 18, 2014 News 0

We’ve launched a new set of discussions on how universities could teach, prepare and empower the whole person in the 21st century—a central aim of the Future(s) initiative.

By partnering with the Reinventors Network, a media startup specializing in innovation, the Future(s) initiative is bringing together leaders from across industries and higher education to discuss and debate how best to achieve this goal.

The first conversation focused on “The Whole Opportunity”—the opportunity for universities to recognize the type of person that the future demands and to imagine how universities can best prepare students to succeed and adapt in an information-driven and interconnected world.

This first panel agreed that future students will have to be agile, collaborative and creative in how they approach and solve for complex problems.

According to the conversation’s first anchor, Salim Ismail, the founding Executive Director of Singularity University, students need to have gathered a bank of knowledge from which they can “pull down information in order to accomplish the task at hand.”

The panel also discussed a variety of ways to promote this type of learning. “You learn holistically when there is a big problem to solve with others,” added Rebecca Chopp, President of Swarthmore College. One framework to develop adaptable, empowered learners is to place students in small, collaborative and diverse clusters and to challenge them with a complex problem at the onset of their academic career.

Expanding on this discussion, the second conversation, “Next Skillsets,” focused on the skills that will be needed to thrive in the workplace of tomorrow.

Universities, the second group agreed, need to orient education away from a model that prizes information delivery and retention and towards one that focuses on teaching students to think critically and develop a capacity for highly creative and collaborative problem solving.

The “Next Skillsets” panel also highlighted the need to rethink essential skills now that data driven technologies and powerful computing capabilities have meant that skills needed to harness these new tools are more important than ever.

Peter Felton, Assistant Provost and Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University, challenged the group to recognize the value of learning that draws on these new technologies and the creative human intellect. “What are the things that we can do together…that computers can’t do yet?” he questioned.

Michael McPherson, President of the Spencer Foundation, also stressed how future students must develop the ability to solve novel and complex problems that demand creative thought—not mechanical habits of mind. Cultivating a creative faculty for practical and moral judgment, he suggests, is where future students and universities are uniquely poised to focus their energies.

You can visit here to learn about Georgetown’s collaboration with Reinventors, including previous roundtables and participants.

Stay tuned for continued updates of the conversation here on the Future(s) website.

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