Higher Education

For the past half century conventional wisdom has been that a four-year college education was a valuable investment, both for personal and professional development. However, during this time the cost of obtaining such a degree has risen far faster than inflation, limiting access and burdening graduates with high debt loads. For the first time in history, 2012 saw the majority of jobless workers 25+ have at least some college education. Have times fundamentally changed, necessitating reforms within the higher education system? Or, does the system still represent a valuable and stable bedrock of society, albeit existing in trying times? What expectations should we have for such a system, and to what extent is it meeting those?


One of the defining characteristics of a capitalist economy is that by privatizing the means of production it "rewards" those who most efficiently use those means to create value. As a result, the distribution of income and wealth is not necessarily uniform. In 2012 the Congressional Research Service estimated that in 2010 the top 1% of households accounted for just over a third of total wealth (34.5%), and the next nine percent of households another 40% of wealth. The bottom 50% of households was estimated to account for just over 1.1% of total wealth. What does this distribution say about the current state of the economy? If it strays from what is expected or desired, how should it be addressed?


As cities around the world experience tremendous declines from their industrial peaks, it is critical to re-imagine the future of the Post-Industrial City. If these cities are to emerge from their current state, what will catalyze this transformation? For those already blighted, how can they be thought of as new sites for opportunity? What innovative ideas from public policy, urban design, economics, or architecture can contribute to shaping the post-industrial landscape's uncertain future?


As the pace of technological innovation continues to accelerate, many things that were previously unimaginable are now possible. In addition to being able to perform new tasks, these technical advances have also greatly impacted the efficiency with which current tasks are performed. We often celebrate technological innovation as being absolutely good, but from a societal perspective what are the effects of these newfound abilities and efficiencies?

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