Tag Archive: innovation


The Center for American Progress hosted an event entitled “Investing in the Future: Higher Education, Innovation, and American Competitiveness,” and included leaders in industry, higher education, science and financial services. Drew Faust, President of Harvard University, reported that now many young students are leading the way in innovation, and that in the last year alone Harvard applied to 197 new patents and launched 10 new companies. It was argued by several panelists that the US is able to lead in innovation in large part due to its focus on the humanities and a liberal arts education, required even for those studying STEM fields, which breeds creativity and teaches students how to think outside the box. While the US is a leader in liberal arts, it ranks 59th in STEM education.  It was argued that the disconnect in STEM education and innovation is causing the US to fall behind in global competitiveness, which it currently is ranked 7th in the world.

There are two areas that the US can address to enhance its global competitiveness. First, it must continue to develop new methods and greater emphasis on STEM education without diminishing its already strong liberal arts programs. The two subject areas must go hand in hand to foster a culture of innovation and knowledge for actual development. There are many ways to do this as subject matters are interconnected and teachers must be creative in using a multidisciplinary approach. Our eKWIP Challenge educational program addresses these issues by combining language arts and the sciences to problem solve current issues. Students should not have to wait until college to connect these fields of study. With eKWIP, we begin making these connections as early as kindergarten and building an early foundation to initiate children’s curiosity in these fields.

We must also educate students on how to make careers in these fields and transform the systems and institutions to allow this. For example, the average age to receive a research grant in the US is 42 years old and most of the grants are very finely focused without room for broad exploration. How do STEM students fund their work before then? And why are we limiting the scope of research, thus reducing space for innovation?   There are many amazing advocates to tackle these issues, and they should be embraced by policy-makers. As panelist and renowned journalist Al Hunt commented, “There is no anti-innovation caucus in Washington.”  This is a bi-partisan issue that will enhance our country’s economy and our national security by elevating the US global competitiveness. The time is now to make these changes so that the US and, most importantly, its youth do not continue to lag behind as developing countries outpace us in education and global competitiveness.

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Teachers should have the same expectations for their students that they have for their own children.

-Geoffrey Canada, Founder and CEO of The Harlem Children’s Zone

The executive team and families of the Coalition for International Initiatives (CII) enjoyed an inspirational evening with educational reformer Mr. Geoffrey Canada. The event began with a memorable face-to-face with Mr. Canada where he listened to our vision for global collaboration between schools in India and the United States. His interest and true passion for education was revealed when he focused on how our goals are going to benefit children. Even in this informal social scenario, Mr. Canada was searching for an answer to the “true” educator’s core question, “What is best for kids?” The keynote presentation was passionate and transcended the early technical difficulties with the microphone. Through it all a message of hope and faith in the education for all children, despite their current life situation, was felt in the hearts and minds of all who attended. At the conclusion of the evening, Mr. Canada left the audience with two challenges to improve education in America: unshakable optimism and constant innovation. We at CII believe we can accept Mr. Canada’s challenge because of our belief that all children can learn when given the opportunity and the community support to find academic and social success. That is why we are building an interactive online classroom community  that will allow children in the US and India to collaborate on Problem-based Learning (PbL) projects in all subject areas including an interactive science laboratory, Exploriments. When children are given the freedom and support to explore their own world to make meaning and solve problems, true educational gains can made in schools at every level.

Photo Credit: C. McGough

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer