Skill Sets for Innovation

Skill Sets for Innovation

Global university enrollment has declined for the past three years. While COVID certainly accounts for some of the decline, could it be that current education practices are divorced from the skill sets for innovation needed for professional success?

It’s not that secondary and higher educational institutions haven’t thought about what is needed. One can find lists of innovations in pedagogy and practice: flipped classrooms, project-based learning, online collaboration to name a few. But univerisities often cannot make a convincing case about the connections between academic disciplines and careers. And students increasingly are skeptical that a university education will produce the outcome of stable employment.

Curosity, creativity, risk-taking, and collaboration are four skill sets essential for innovation. Students entering the university today want hybrid learning spaces that allow them to practice these skills in real time. Siloed academic departments with no inter-disciplinary communication are no longer adequate. Students want to build upon developments such as “augmented reality and virtual reality to accelerate innovation and enable immersive, engaging and collaborative educational experiences …”

Students want to see examples of how high level content knowledge fused with curiosity, creativity, risk-taking and collaboration fuel innovation. That is the connection between academics and future careers.

A recent visit to the Pfizer Center for Digital Innovation in Thessaloniki, Greece underlines this connection. The Center recruits professionals to develop “transformative digital solutions driving innovative breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”

What type of professionals fit the profile? Those with “exceptional skills” and “multi-disciplinary talent,” who are “not afraid of making mistakes.” Professionals who know how to collaborate with partners and patients, who practice inclusivity, and who believe that “co-creating is a win for everyone.”

To work at a place that claims its “work innovates daily,” demands a multi-disciplinary education that acquaints students with the skill sets crucial for innovation — curiosity, creativity, risk-taking and collaboration.


Karen Collias

My name is Karen Collias and I founded Knowledge Without Borders™ to infuse creativity and innovation into the most salient educational issues affecting global contemporary society. I attribute my enthusiasm to cross the borders of traditional knowledge domains to the multi-disciplinary nature of my education and professional experience. The first in my family to go to college, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My professional experience focuses on interdisciplinary research, teaching, and strategic thinking at a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of State. I currently am crossing borders to write about creativity and innovation in education and philanthropy.



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