Workshop: Will today's innovations in graduate education meet the challenges of the future?

June 09, 2003

ARLINGTON, Va.- Advanced education faces significant challenges from the impact of changing population demographics, the information technology revolution, the globalization of science,and evolving workforce needs, but lacks key data needed to evaluate educational innovations, according to participants of the National Science Foundation-hosted "Future of Graduate Education Workshop."

NSF's Directorate of Education and Human Resources published the workshop's summary online today at

The workshop, held March 19-20, sought to identify the potential impact of forces changing the future environment of graduate education, to define the desirable characteristics of graduate education, and to identify what is necessary to ensure graduate-level education meets the emerging needs of the nation.

Participants included scientists, educators, students, and executives from academia, government, non-profit organizations and industry.

"It's recognized that graduate education is evolving right now at an unprecedented rate as student populations change and new methods of learning emerge along with new disciplines," said Joan F. Lorden, dean in residence at NSF's Division of Graduate Education and a workshop organizer. "The workshop participants pointed out that graduate education still faces competing pressures and structures that tend to perpetuate the status quo and there is a massive gap in graduate education research. Without this body of research, meaningful institutionalized change won't be possible."

The workshop's participants took note of burgeoning features of graduate education such as on-line learning and mobile student populations and surmised that for-profit colleges and professional master's degrees will also become more prevalent as future generations seek knowledge that will allow them to immediately capitalize upon employment opportunities.

Jennifer Slimowitz, an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow with NSF's Division of Graduation Education and the workshop's co-organizer, said, "It's expected that business and industry will seek targeted knowledge to reach specific objectives using international teams comprised of interdisciplinary members. 'Just-in-time' knowledge may ultimately become as commonly practiced as 'just-in time' manufacturing and distribution. To find out how to meet this demand will require research-driven change."
NSF Program Officers:
Joan F. Lorden, (703) 292- 7468,;
Jennifer Slimowitz, (703) 292-8121,

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