Reimagining a University Education

Our rapidly changing world demands new mindsets and new complements of skills and talents. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, university graduates across all disciplines, and all degree types, will need to work in teams with those who are differently trained and differently situated. They will need to be equipped with literacies and the competencies necessary for a high-tech, digital, and connected world. They will need to judge the validity, relevance, and reliability of the massive amounts of information to which they have access, as well as how to organize and deploy those data effectively. They will need to develop the fluency to communicate with many audiences using multiple means, and to be translators across disciplines, cultures, and languages. And they must be eager to lead in both public and private spheres – through elected office, military and community service, nonprofit work, and private philanthropy. They will need to understand that values are as important as vocation, and that the path to a meaningful life is less about the what and the how provided by science and technology, and more about the why provided by an embrace of the arts and the humanities.

USC has long directed its entrepreneurial spirit to revolutionize pedagogy, whether it was creating the first schools of International Relations or Gerontology, or establishing the first distance learning programs. The university has continued this up to the present day with innovative programs such as the Viterbi iPodia program, the Marshall World Bachelor of Business, the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, and many others.

In the coming years, USC will lead the national discussion on the value of the liberal arts and how best to connect them to the challenges of the 21st century. We will infuse crucial literacies – informational, numerical, visual, and digital, among others – across our curriculum. We will establish programs in the arts and the humanities that bring together scholars and practitioners in ways that embrace the mindsets of inclusion, convergence, and entrepreneurship, engage Los Angeles, and broaden the career opportunities traditional to those disciplines, and we will continue to evolve our General Education program to incorporate concepts of entrepreneurship, inclusion, convergence, and impact. We will launch interschool, inter-professional programs. We will continue to invent and deploy new technologies in the classroom and online. We will reaffirm the importance of teaching and mentorship in the context of a research university and we will put into place the systems necessary to train, assess, and reward exceptional teaching.