Imagining the University of the Future
A Georgia Tech-led discussion in Washington, D.C., looked at how colleges can meet students’ needs throughout their entire lives.
Looking forward to the year 2040, Georgia Tech's Commission for Creating the Next in Education has devised a strategic map for navigating the changing landscape of academia and inspiring the pioneers of innovation, and we traveled to our nation's capital to discuss ideas with the nation's top thinkers in this higher education landscape.
As the needs of students and employers continue to change rapidly, higher education must adapt. What those changes will look like was discussed during a Georgia Tech-led panel held Thursday in Washington, D.C.
The audience of more than 50 people included reporters and representatives from foundations, think tanks and congressional staffers.
The event opened with a fireside chat focused on Georgia Tech’s “Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Education” report. Wall Street Journal reporter Melissa Korn talked with Provost Rafael L. Bras about how the university of the future might look.
“A lot of things are changing quickly. Demographics are changing. The way students are learning is changing,” Bras said. “So many things are moving that any institution, in my opinion, that wants to remain relevant to a good audience and continue its duty to educate has to keep up with these changes.”
Georgia Tech’s roadmap for that change is a report released last spring. Using the year 2040 as a vantage point, it envisions a university that provides an educational experience that can be personalized as professional interests and needs shift throughout a person’s life. The report looks at ways to improve advising, how to use artificial intelligence to personalize education, and what new products and services will make it possible to meet demand as learners’ professional and personal needs change.
“We will strive to make Georgia Tech a place to be for life,” Bras said. “We want people to say I’m in forever.”
Following the fireside chat, Bras was joined by four other panelists for a discussion about reimagining higher education to engage learning for life. The other panelists were:
- Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX
- Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities
- Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education
- Peter Stokes, managing director in Huron’s higher education Strategy & Operations group
Adam Harris, a reporter with The Atlantic, moderated the discussion which touched multiple topics including the need to educate the whole person and evolving in response to students’ demands and the shifting labor market. They highlighted the importance of affordability, access and excellence. They explained how modular offerings through certificates and minimesters will benefit more students. And they talked about how to overcome impediments to innovation.
“Any institution that wants to remain on the forefront must make it affordable and accessible,” Bras said. “And it better be exciting.”