Emerging Technology’s Impact on Higher Education: Emory President Claire E. Sterk

Emerging Technology’s Impact on Higher Education: Emory President Claire E. Sterk

September 13, 2019 1 By Ronny Jaskolski


I think that this is an incredibly exciting time
because of the advances in technology. It’s also a scary time because when I sit back
and I read the media and I listen, I look at the literature that is out there,
I look at the statistics, it’s mind-boggling. Because you realize that currently 50 percent of the jobs that we have no longer most likely will exist two decades from now. Two decades is, for most of us, still in our lifetime. And what does it mean?
So half the jobs that we have today will no longer exist. Worse yet, the Institute for the Future put out statistics that indicate that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t exist yet. And that means that we need to be very attuned to the fact to embrace the changes that are taking place. But also think about how do those push us to do something differently. There was a wonderful example when we look at the hotel industry. The hotel industry invested millions and millions of dollars advancing, enhancing the quality of what they provided. Advancing the environment, better customer service, just all the things that made so much sense because that’s how you get ranked, that’s how you get rated, that’s how you survive as a business. And then all of a sudden a whole new model came along where people could actually have places to stay
without needing to stay in a hotel, also known as Airbnb. And you could step back and say what does it mean for universities? We can continue to compete with each other to get better, not competing just to win, but competing to deliver the best. But what is it? With all these changes that we talked about that’s going to make us realize that the way in which we’re doing things no longer fits with what we promise our students and our alumni is that we will prepare you to have meaningful lives. To have successful careers and to be able to have a positive impact on the world. The question that we have today is there is so much knowledge, what does it mean when we say that the responsibility of institutions of higher education is to provide knowledge? There is an increasing awareness that what is more important is being able to acquire knowledge,
to translate that knowledge then into daily life. Technology has a lot of flexibility, but it has limits. More important, technology doesn’t have empathy and that’s what we are going to need. So at the end of the day, technology yes, will change our world, it will change our lives. It will make some of it better and some of it we will regret because it’s not like the way it was. But between the flexibility and the empathy and those are things that you learn through the kind of education
that we offer at institutions like Emory, we should be excited about the possibilities. We should be excited about the fact that it’s pushing
us to not only think about being the best, but what are the different models that prepare people the best to be ready to succeed in the world of the future?