Converse President Betsy Fleming unveiled a strategic vision for the future of the college during Opening Convocation today (Sept. 11) in Twichell Auditorium. The vision, which is responsive to changing workplace and lifestyle needs in the twenty-first century, centers upon establishing Converse as a leader in the development of creativity across all disciplines in and out of the classroom, and as a community that produces engaged citizens who effect positive change.
During Convocation, Fleming remarked, “All the world’s professions, workplaces and nation-states are crying out for individuals with the capacity for creativity, flexibility and problem-solving. There is a dire need for educational institutions to revisit their programs in the context of this rapidly changing world. With entrepreneurship and the capacity to imagine the unseen and unknown becoming increasingly valued skills in social, business, political and cultural forums, an institution like Converse can distinguish its educational experience by fostering the ability to comprehend facts and problems, then to apply judgment, intuition and creativity to expand frontiers and to develop solutions. Our emphasis on creativity will support the discovery of relationships among differing ideas, individuals and disciplines and integrating them into a new whole. It will engage both the left and the right sides of the brain to find new ways of doing old things, and new ways of doing new things.”
Demonstrating the exponential acceleration of communication and expansion of knowledge, Fleming cited advancements in the past six years including Google’s search engine being patented, the launch of Wikipedia, introduction of the Ipod, the explosion of the Internet as a social network that builds community across continents and mobilizes millions towards political action, and the admission of China into the World Trade Organization – propelling it forward as a dominant entity in the global economy. Today, 2.7 billion searches are performed on Google each month. Three thousand new books are published daily. Text messages are sent and received so efficiently that more of such messages are dispatched each day than there are people on this planet. It is estimated that more information will be produced this year than was produced in total during the previous 5,000 years. Today, the quantity of new technical information doubles every two years, and the pace is expected to accelerate.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, longevity, consistency and predictability are rapidly becoming obsolete concepts for the American workforce. One out of four workers today has been employed by their current company for less than one year, and more than half for less than five years. Moreover, today’s students are predicted to hold 10-14 jobs by the age of 38.
Former Secretary of Education Dick Riley has estimated that “the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 were not in existence in 2004,” meaning that most institutions of higher learning are currently preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, in which they will use technologies that have not been invented in order to solve