Higher Education: Your Life May Depend Upon It

Preparation for Work as Dynamic Pursuit of Lifelong Learning

by Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. and Heather E. McGowan

(Learn more in the recorded webcast: The Future of Work and the Academy)

Higher education and the coveted bachelor’s degree was once the essential launch pad to economic stability. Now, it seems it is something more. In to a new report published by Brookings, “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century,” Princeton professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton explore the patterns and trends that have led to a decline in the life expectancy of middle-aged white people without college degrees since the late 1990s.

Spoiler alert: education is the key distinction, and differences in life expectancy do not appear due simply to an economic division.

In this paper, we will take a look at the changing landscape of work and what this means for higher education. We'll look particularly at manufacturing. Note: All segments of our economy are in some form of disruption. Manufacturing is an obvious and easy industry to use as an example as the devastation can be seen and understood. Rising automation and machine intelligence will creep into and replace the knowledge workers with the same voracity with which the physical workers have been supplanted:


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About the Authors

Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. is the Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and the former President of Becker College. More information about Dr. Johnson can be found at The Agile Future.

Heather E. McGowan is an academic and corporate consultant who works at the intersection of the Future of Work and the Future of Learning. More information can be found about her work at The Future [of Work] is Learning.