In my meeting with Bennington College president Liz Coleman on February 19th, the underlying and understated but agreed to premise was that colleges have to do a better job of creating global citizens. End of statement. To do otherwise would simply be irresponsible.
I had presented the Keynote Address that morning to the graduating class to kick-off their Senior Week conference. (I graduated in 1972 with the first class of men to matriculate.) My theme was Metacognition and Reinvention: the 21st Century Career Paradigm. Basically making the case that the future workplace is changing so fast that 85% of the jobs these kids will do have not been invented yet (e.g. space vacation consultant) using technologies that don’t exist yet to solve problems we don’t yet know are problems.
The key to success in this new model is to be ready to shift gears – on a moments notice. To move quickly towards the maelstrom du jour. You can’t sit still anymore. Your antennae have to always be up, your spide-y sense tingling. These skills are being taught in a few places, but this approach is in fact in the veritable DNA of Bennington. Learning how to learn. Having designed their own education, based on what they wanted to know and the resources that were readily available to expedite the process, these seniors are uniquely positioned to design their work life.
We plan to have follow on sessions to talk about the two approaches/needs: near term actionable modules/projects/focus zones. And then more strategic, longer trajectory activities, including expanding the college’s ecosystem to include unlikely partners. It is the magical ones with seemingly disparate approaches – including IBM - where a core strategic sentiment or set of objectives or perspectives enable stronger, more impactful and mysterious outcomes than what might be achieved with more traditional alliances.
To be continued…