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Preparing graduates for life and career success
A colleague recently pointed out that I am obsessed with the “future of work”. Admittedly, I’ve spent a lot of time the past five years thinking and talking about the academy’s place in our new and emerging realities. As technology advances, repetitive and predictable tasks are increasingly performed through automation and robotics. Expanding applications of artificial intelligence are only accelerating the movement. For our graduates to be successful, they must be prepared with capabilities that technology simply cannot replace. Fortunately, many of these capabilities have formed the core of the academy since our earliest days.
For many decades and through innumerable eras of advance and disruption, our nine member institutions have prepared students for life and career success. Until today, the competencies our graduates develop beyond those associated with specific disciplines have been ill-defined or at least poorly articulated.
In 2019, we identified a group of talented faculty members, academic officers, and presidents and charged them with defining the essential skills each of our graduates develop at the Universities of Louisiana, no matter the degree program. Though slowed by the pandemic, the task force identified and described five competencies that will lead to lifelong success in life and career.
Defining these skills will enable graduates to better communicate their value to future employers; improve employer recognition of the readiness of UL System graduates; and educate our government leaders about the true value of a bachelor’s degree. More importantly, we will add clarity to our work in developing learners, global citizens empowered to control their individual destinies while contributing to our collective humanity.
In the coming months our provosts throughout the System will work with faculty and staff to weave these competencies and their definitions into the academic life of our institutions, honoring the distinctiveness of our universities’ missions, cultures, and faculties. We look forward to seeing them represented in course catalogs, syllabi, and other academic functions ensuring our students recognize the power of the core curriculum and the value of learning.
For your future. For our future.
Dr. Jim Henderson
The ability to read and listen carefully to ideas and information, to understand those ideas, and to convey them to other people using both language and modes (written, oral, digital) appropriate to the intended audience.
This competency requires students to pursue, absorb, and synthesize information and ideas from various sources and to communicate them accurately and successfully to others. Graduates are prepared to communicate effectively and facilitate listening and learning from others in order to reach a common understanding.
The ability to define and to respond to problems, challenges, and opportunities by employing logical, informed, and creative solutions.
This competency ensures that students are able to apply formal and informal tools of reasoning to characterize problems and to reach appropriate conclusions, as well to see connections and causality among events and ideas. It is also necessary to ensure the completion of successful learning and to effect change. Graduates are prepared to evaluate complex situations and respond with efficient and effective solutions.
The ability to balance personal and professional challenges, to respond to changing realities, and to persevere through difficulty and unexpected situations.
This competency requires students to demonstrate “grit” and determination in the face of challenges and changing circumstances, to adopt and embrace rapidly advancing technologies, to follow through on goals they have established for themselves when those goals are within reach, and to make sensible modifications to these goals when the circumstances or their own preferences have changed. Graduates are equipped with the ability to be adaptable and meet expectations required no matter the circumstance.
The ability to work respectfully and productively with people from diverse backgrounds, identities, and perspectives.
This competency requires students to understand how and why an individual’s background and identity shapes their views, preferences, and how they approach problems. It promotes the accomplishment of shared goals in a context of respectful teamwork. Graduates are prepared to live and work in an increasingly connected global community.
The ability to learn, to actively pursue knowledge, and to continuously self-evaluate in current circumstances.
This competency requires students to see their own cognitive limitations by understanding that their views on a certain subject may not be fully informed by all of the relevant information…or even wrong. It promotes the development of new skills and competencies for changing demands and opportunities. Graduates have a keen awareness of self and a commitment to continuous internal evaluation and growth.