Public Invited to Share Thoughts at Center for Civic Life Event

3/20/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – The public is invited to share their thinking on “The Changing World of Work: What Should We Ask of Higher Education?” This free event will be held April 7 at 7 p.m. in Room 115 (Ridenour Room) of the Dauch College of Business and Economics at the corner College Avenue and Grant Street. The event is sponsored by the Center for Civic Life at Ashland University.

What is needed to get a good job is changing greatly at the same time that college costs are increasing.  Today’s students accumulate an average of almost $30,000 in debt by the time they graduate. Many graduates are unable to find work in the field for which they are prepared. New technologies have made many occupations obsolete. About one-third of workers now are independent contractors or part-time employees, receiving little job security and benefits. In the face of these changes, many are asking if a college education is still a good investment.

Participants at the forum will consider three directions higher education might take in the face of these changes, looking at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

One option is that colleges and universities should focus on preparing their students for the job market, tailoring their programs to the needs of employers. This might involve developing close partnerships between businesses and colleges to develop skills employers want. Students might have fewer elective requirements, aiming more exclusively at their own programs.

A second option for higher education might be to focus on preparing students to become effective citizen leaders who will create the jobs of the future and create a better society. A broad general education with an emphasis on habits of the mind, not just technical skills, would be the priority.

A third option focuses on the power of the college or university to create jobs, generate business opportunities and drive development in their communities. The perception of colleges and universities having a public purpose to advance the common good has a long history in our society but it seems to have taken a back seat recently.

The belief of the Center for Civic Life is that all community issues, including this one, are best solved by engaging citizens to deliberate options, consider opposing views and arriving at a path forward that everyone can support.

For further information, contact Dr. Louise Fleming-Dufala at lfleming@ashland.edu.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###