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Spring 2001
THE FUTURE IS NOW
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Our society has moved from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. In the Industrial Age, the harnessing of steam and electricity and the capabilities for mass production and rapid transportation opened up new vistas and opportunities, and conferred power. In the Information Age, knowledge is power.

Today, knowledge accounts for a large part of an organization's value. This means that knowledge workers - people who can add to the intellectual capital and, thus, the value of their companies - are urgently needed. Companies and organizations of every kind need employees who can analyze problems and think critically to devise an appropriate course of action. And universities must respond to this need.

In the rapidly changing world of the Information Age, the specific knowledge acquired at a university is not sufficient preparation for the entire duration of a career. So, what can universities do to ensure that our students graduate well-prepared for the future, with the knowledge they need most?

Certainly our students must be acquainted with the new technologies, and be capable of leading and excelling in a global, interconnected society. Those without access to IT will fall behind. To that end, we must make science and mathematics compelling subjects - starting long before students arrive at the university. At the same time, we must continue to value the arts, the humanities and the social sciences. A broad-based education, balancing depth and breadth of knowledge, still provides the best preparation for life.

There is no question that information technology is a prodigious force for change in higher education. It is also fair to say that higher education prepares students to understand and manage change in their own lives. As John F. Kennedy once said: "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."

Albert Carnesale is chancellor of UCLA. This article was adapted from remarks delivered November 8, 2000, at Waseda University in Tokyo.

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