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World's Top Innovators Offer Advice on What Students Should Study Today to Best Prepare for TomorrowInaugural Xconomist Report Includes Insights From Vinod Khosla, Esther Dyson, Nathan Myhrvold, John Seely Brown, Desh Deshpande, Todd Park, Robert Langer, Ann Marie Sastry and Other Change Agents (January 18, 2012)
CAMBRIDGE, MA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/18/12 -- Is it time to shelf the long-standing liberal arts-oriented education rich in literature and history in favor of more concentrated study of current events, biology, mathematics, foreign languages and computer programming? Will the need for "elegant minimalism" in a data-swamped world thrust design and the arts to the forefront? Should students focus on their passions rather than "core" subjects because what they'll need to know 10 years from now doesn't even exist yet?
In short, what skills and knowledge will it take for young people to win the best jobs in the future and create new opportunities for others?
Against that backdrop, Xconomy today released its inaugural Xconomist Report. Available for download here, it comprises a wide range of thought-provoking responses to a single question: "What should students be studying now to prepare for 10 years from now?"
Co-sponsored by AMA Enterprise and Babson College, more than 20 internationally recognized innovators, entrepreneurs, educators and investors from fields as diverse as biology, computer science, energy, engineering, healthcare and government provided responses. With hundreds of years of collective experience, their insights will enlighten, entertain, infuriate and inspire.
"Education remains among the most hotly debated topics," said Xconomy Founder and Editor-in-Chief Robert Buderi. "The stakes have never been higher and the future never cloudier thanks to dramatic technological shifts, increasing economic uncertainty and an ever-evolving global economy. Our Xconomist Report was undertaken to drive more dialog from a widely diverse, field-hardened group of thought leaders who collectively have great insight into what the future will bring -- and what young people today will need to succeed."
Vinod Khosla, General Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers; Co-founder and first CEO of Sun Microsystems: "To me, the fundamental tools of learning stem (no pun intended) from science, technology, engineering, and math. This updated curriculum should eclipse the archaic view of liberal education still favored by institutions like Harvard and Yale based on a worldview from the 1800s... Furthermore, certain humanities disciplines such as literature and history should become optional subjects, in much the same way as physics is today (and, of course, I advocate mandatory physics study)."
Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, US Department of Health and Human Services; Co-founder of athenahealth: "Students should learn by studying how to start things -- how to create and grow new products, initiatives, ventures and enterprises -- a skill set that never goes out of style and that is fundamental to our nation's future well-being and prosperity."
Esther Dyson, Investor, Technology Analyst and Philanthropist: "More than anything, they should be studying math, including statistics and probability, and programming. No matter what the subject, we will have huge amounts of data about it, and will need these tools to get meaning from the data... But in the meantime, don't forget to read world literature so you can understand your place in history and know how to be a human being."
Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande, Founder of the Deshpande Center for Technical Innovation at MIT; Chairman of A123 Systems; Co-founder of Sycamore Networks and Founder of Cascade Communications: "In the old economy, individuals mastered a specific skill and practiced it over the course of a 50-year career. In the next 50 years, new graduates will probably change their field of practice every 10 years. They need a good work ethic, to be able to learn new things... Picking a problem they feel passionate about and finding a way to solve it builds confidence and gives students a taste of taking charge."
Ann Marie Sastry, Co-founder of Sakti3, an advanced battery manufacturing spinout from the University of Michigan: "The notion that there is a gold standard -- a favored text or tome, a single subject matter expert, or a single corporation with a single best practice, in any discipline -- is really outdated. The 'new normal' is generation of information by multiple sources, and use of meta-analysis to sort for the most correct, most useful information. The winners in this era are those who can synthesize and execute, efficiently..."
Lisa Suennen, Co-founder and Managing Member of healthcare-focused venture capital firm Psilos Group: "The Baby Boomers started turning 65 years old in 2011 at a rate of approximately 10,000 people per day, and that trend will continue for the next 20 years... The best thing you could possibly study is how to conceive of technologies, products and services that would appeal to the aging demographic."
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Xconomy is an innovative news and events organization based in Cambridge, MA. It is dedicated to providing timely, insightful, close-to-the-scene information about the business of technology -- across information technology, life sciences, energy, and other high-tech fields. Xconomy is staffed by world-class journalists, and supported by "the Xconomists," who include nearly 300 of the country's leading innovators. Xconomy's online news network now includes hubs in Boston, Detroit, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, and the company holds regular forums and networking events in these leading innovation centers. For information about Xconomy events in your area, or to sign up for daily feeds of news from Xconomy, visit: http://www.xconomy.com/rss-feeds/.
About the Xconomists
The Xconomists are an unrivaled group of more than 270 leading technologists, scientists, and business innovators who serve as Xconomy's editorial advisors. They share their views and insights -- and from time to time their pet peeves and perhaps a bit of gossip -- in the Xconomist Forum.
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