August 13, 2021 – Future of Work

ICYMI: Higher education must change


As higher education leaders continue to grapple with the pandemic and resulting economic disruption, it is increasingly apparent the circumstance of today’s learners have shifted dramatically. 

In two new podcasts and an op-ed, Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) Executive Director Ryan Stowers cautions that institution leaders should not fall back to their pre-pandemic status quo. To innovate, they also must do more than incorporate technology into the classroom. 

Nearly two-thirds of students think higher education is not worth the cost, Stowers and Western Governors University President Scott Pulsipher write at The Hechinger Report. The solution? More individualization that could usher in “a golden age of education in which every learner can discover and develop their innate gifts and aptitudes.”

The current top-down, one-size-fits-all higher education system does not help learners understand who they are, Stowers explained on the EdUp Experience Podcast. Postsecondary education programs should give learners the opportunity to identify their strengths and acquire the knowledge needed to be successful. Then they should help learners apply that knowledge a way that improves learners’ own lives and the lives of others. 

CKF is working to bring about a transformational change in postsecondary education by partnering with social entrepreneurs who envision a “completely new and dynamic landscape of learning options that will help all learners reach their potential” and embrace lifelong learning, Stowers said. 

On WorkingNation’s social media series, Stowers summarized CKF’s postsecondary education mission: “When you think about work and how people find fulfillment, what we’re really looking for is self-actualization where people have the opportunity to discover who they are” and find work “where they can help themselves and ultimately help other people.”

The Charles Koch Foundation supports educational opportunities that respect the dignity of all learners, foster a diversity of approaches, and are open to the free flow of ideas and innovation. Learn more about how we help all learners unlock their potential.