Bridging the Economic and Civic Missions

Are the competencies sought by employers similar to those needed for citizens to protect and lead American democracy? Tuft University’s models of student civic learning outcomes include the following competencies: comprehension, analysis, synthesis, planning, communication, cultural competency, leadership, and evaluation. While SOCHE’s Civic Measures are:deliberation, advocacy, consensus building, awareness, voice, and critical reflection. Aren’t both of these sets the qualities you look for and find in your most talented working professionals? That is part of the question…a question being wrestled with today. I had the opportunity to participate in the launch of a national conversation on this subject held in our nation’s capital on January 21 hosted by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) and several key partners. This conversation responded to concerns voiced by thousands of citizens in more than 160 local forums in which participants deliberated on how higher education maintains a rich, holistic, liberal education while, at the same time, meets growing demands for specific skillsets in our graduates by employers. The topic is ripe for discussion and NIFI has provided an issue guidebook to get us started: The Changing World of Work: What Should We Ask of Higher Education? You can also watch a recording of the January 21 event to hear what higher education, business, and government perspectives shared at the launch: Live Stream Video.

As for SOCHE’s position, we believe through deliberative conversations our region’s 120,000 students will develop the knowledge and skills that strengthen American democracy, as well as make valuable professionals for the creative economy. Hence, we will continue to partner with our members to host issue forums in the future. In the meantime, think about this last question: how best do our campuses bridge their economic and civic missions into one enriched, comprehensive education for Ohioans?

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