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In the dynamic, hyper-connected, and unpredictable 21st century, workplace and career paradigms are rapidly changing. The professions are no exception. Technology has routinized and increased access to the expertise that traditionally set professionals apart from other workers, leading some to forecast professions’ demise. Even if, as we suspect, new forms of complexity and needs for expertise continue to outrun technology, professionals’ lives and careers will diverge dramatically from past norms. In the world we anticipate, the number of theories, diagnoses, and strategies among which each professional — alone or in teams — must make informed and workable judgments will increase exponentially, as will the rapidity with which their specialties become obsolete and have to be retooled or replaced. In this world, learning to learn will far outstrip the importance of applying the specialized knowledge with which professionals are initially programmed.

If this prediction is correct, then university-based professional schools (hereinafter “professional schools”), which historically have done that initial programming, must change at the same pace as their graduates’ careers. Evidence that professional schools are not evolving quickly enough is widespread. Employers and policymakers criticize professional schools for not preparing graduates to succeed in the modern workplace or to solve increasingly acute public problems. And prospective students are voting with their feet, opting for less expensive and more relevant training from accelerators, boot camps, and massive open online courses (MOOCs) and in dynamic work environments themselves. In order to help the professions retool for the modern world, professional education must retool itself.


Education | Law | Teacher Education and Professional Development


Center for Public Research and Leadership