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October 14, 2014

Is your degree good for anything more than a paper airplane? (Dave Kellam/ Flickr CC).

Jeff Selingo says it’s time to move past the idea that college students need to be limited to certain majors. The contributing editor to The Chronicle of Higher Education sat down with Innovation Hub host Kara Miller to talk about how the current system might be holding college graduates back.


Instead, Selingo proposes something different, a system where students structure their learning around a problem they’re passionate about — developing the skill-sets necessary to fix that problem along the way. Projects and problems could be things like bringing water to the desert, or looking at inner-city education.

Selingo explains:

What you end up having is people who have much more passion around what they’re studying because they see a tangible outcome to it. And second, you see a cross-disciplinary approach. In other words, you bring together people who have an interest in the humanities, sociology, economics, engineering. And you bring them all together in the same room to help solve these problems. Because the fact of the matter is, that’s the way the world works.

Selingo admits that his approach isn’t likely to transform colleges and universities anytime soon. But the way his innovative idea relies on problem-solving and real-world skill development sounds similar to competency-based education. On Campus has reported on competency-based ed before. Learn more by listening back:

If you want to hear more about Selingo’s proposal, you can listen to the entire conversation here.

Innovation Hub is a weekly radio show about how we’ll live next, produced at WGBH and distributed by PRI. You can catch up with more of what Innovation Hub is doing, including innovations in higher education, at their website.

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