Are You a Next G’Engineer?

Editor’s Note: Excerpts from this guest post originally appeared on the blog, "impatientoptimists.org."  Impatient Optimists is the blog of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

We’re looking for a few good change agents. The mission: transforming higher education to make it as effective, relevant, accessible, and affordable as our 21st-century society is requiring it to be.

The challenges facing postsecondary education are the stuff of every day’s headlines, even outside the media that specifically cover education. Many of the solutions we see bandied about reside at the nexus of the need for change – in learning, business, and organizational models – and innovation catalyzed by technology. That is a potentially explosive mixture. Ensuring that today’s rapidly accelerating climate of change in higher education produces next generation learning models that are more effective, more affordable, and more accessible, rather than less, will require knowledgeable, creative leaders with the courage and capacity to look outside of the box, build consensus, design creatively, and iterate as they go.

In response to this need, EDUCAUSE and Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) have announced a new leadership development program – the Breakthrough Models Academy. The Academy will identify and serve a national cohort of leaders who have the insight, energy, and commitment to design models and strategies that address the critical issues in higher education and chart a course for the future of the industry. One of the driving forces behind the Academy’s launch is NGLC’s recently-funded cohort of breakthrough models for postsecondary programs. We anticipate that these pioneering models will play a critical role in defining a leadership development experience like no other – which is what higher education’s challenges clearly demand.  

In its inaugural year, the Academy will begin with a week-long face-to-face program in Cambridge, MA (July 14-19). Visionary leaders from across and beyond postsecondary education are serving as guest faculty in the program, including no fewer than four institutional presidents, as well as CIOs, leading researchers, distinguished thought leaders from the faculty, presidents and senior leaders of associations such as the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and leaders of corporate organizations in the postsecondary education sphere. See the program agenda for details.

The Academy will continue through team-based work on a breakthrough model design challenge during the summer. Team projects will be judged by experts and peers at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2013, October 15-18 in Anaheim, CA with prizes (cash and educational credits) for winning team designs. Annual Academy cohorts will naturally become a national community of higher education innovators who depend on each other for guidance and collaborate to advance breakthrough models.

The Academy is one of two new next generation learning programs being announced by EDUCAUSE and NGLC. Both are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The other, the Breakthrough Models Network (to be announced later this year), will support 15 to 20 institutions’ efforts to develop a comprehensive strategic/business plan to move towards technology-enabled next generation learning approaches. For more information about participating in the Academy, including nomination and application materials, please visit the Breakthrough Models Academy site. The deadline for application is January 17, 2013.