Plenary Session

The Wisdom of Failure: Building a Culture of Creative Problem Solving

Failure is fundamental to the process of innovation: businesses and organizations thrive on cycles of trial and error, research and development, and creative destruction. When it comes to developing the next generation of vaccines, transportation systems, or mobile phone applications, knowing what might work often requires knowing what doesn’t work and why. Yet all too often, students, universities, and countless organizations find themselves trapped in a success-at-all-costs culture, with too few opportunities for the failure and experimentation that ultimately leads to innovation. How can we embrace failure as both a necessary part of the entrepreneurial and design process and as a critical element for ongoing accountability and transparency in our work? Panelists from a wide diversity of sectors and expertise will share not only some of their most educational failures, but how initial failure led to future success.

Education Working Session

Recruiting and Retaining the Best and Brightest Teachers

The single most important determinant in the quality of a student’s education is the teacher. Good teachers can close and even eliminate achievement gaps that separate at-risk students who may never achieve their full potential. Even if high-quality teachers are recruited, half of all new U.S. teachers are likely to leave the profession within five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries. Researchers estimate that the cost of replacing U.S. public school teachers who have dropped out of the profession is approximately $2.2 billion a year. Additionally, in order to meet the goal of universal primary education, two million new teaching positions will need to be created globally by 2015. How can students work to dramatically increase the number of qualified, well-paid teachers around the world? This panel will discuss how school systems, universities, and students can attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession and, more importantly, retain them.

Environment and Climate Change Working Session

Going after the Green: Cost-Effective Campus Sustainability

Like many institutions and individuals across the country, colleges and universities face tightening budgets and shrinking financial resources. However, this predicament also presents an opportunity for schools to reevaluate their energy use and environmental impact while equipping students with practical skills for the workplace. For example, through building retrofit projects, universities can reduce their operating costs and save on utilities, create partnerships between staff, facilities, and students, and generate real-life data for economics, business, and engineering classes. Additionally, universities can invigorate regional businesses and supply chains by sourcing food from local farms and expanding sustainable transportation options. This panel will explore how to create the maximum economic and ecological benefit for students, the campus, and the greater community.

Poverty Alleviation Working Session

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Poverty, Hunger, and Insecurity

This past year, more than 13 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Eritrea suffered from the worst drought in the region in over 60 years. It claimed the lives of more than 30,000 children and countless more adults. Hundreds of thousands remain at risk from the threat of cyclical famines if their root causes are not addressed. Aid deliveries in the region often struggle to make it the “last mile” due to insecurity resulting from over 20 years of conflict and sporadic rebel-imposed bans on humanitarian aid. Yet investing in long-term food security in the first place can prevent hunger at a fraction of the cost of providing emergency food aid during a famine. Facing a crisis this complex, what can students do to create sustainable food systems where they are needed the most? How are diaspora communities self-organizing to bring effective aid to affected regions? Panelists will discuss the formidable challenges ahead, proven solutions that exist, and the ways in which young people are already working on the ground to improve the situation in the Horn of Africa.

Plenary Session

Futurenomics: Creating Opportunity in an Unstable World

Around the world, young people and college students face an increasingly challenging and unpredictable economic landscape. In many industrialized nations, young people are confronted with rising unemployment rates, growing debt burdens, and a consistently volatile stock market. Moreover, in the developing world, there are still 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty who are living on less than $1.25 a day, and few options for young people to access and finance postsecondary education. Yet ongoing economic instability has also served as a launch pad for countless young entrepreneurs who have few other options than to start from scratch with a new business model. From solar energy startups to microfinance-powered medical clinics, students and universities around the world are launching innovative enterprises that are creating jobs, generating income, and further developing local economies. In an age of bailouts, foreclosures, and credit default swaps, how can students continue to harness markets as a tool for global problem solving? What does an economy that factors in the needs of the future look like, and how do we begin to create those jobs today? This panel will highlight how young people can move beyond business-as-usual and create economic opportunity for generations to come.

Education Working Session

Public vs. Private: Who Decides and Who Provides?

With traditional government-led education systems often unable to provide all children with a quality education, a wide range of new models have been developed to address education access and quality, including community schools, charter schools, and low-cost private schools. Despite a lack of conclusive evidence showing that one model results in better learning outcomes than the others, a movement pushing fee-based private schools for the most poor and marginalized children has emerged in many developing countries. Since education is generally regarded as a core human right, how can students and universities ensure that the increasing diversity in education funding and delivery mechanisms still provides basic access to quality education? This panel will explore what we can learn from the wide variety of schooling models, and discuss how students can get involved with developing strong national education systems, particularly for children and youth from the most marginalized populations.

Environment and Climate Change Working Session

Tomorrow’s Triple Bottom Line: The Next Generation of Environmental Entrepreneurship

As major corporations and local businesses alike continue to slow or freeze hiring, students have to be increasingly creative about their future career paths. However, many industries related to environmental sustainability still have much room for growth, including the clean technology, waste management, and product design sectors. The ecological challenges ahead call for a new generation of entrepreneurs to innovate, create, and implement ideas that incorporate environmental stewardship as a necessary and fully valued “bottom line.” This panel will highlight innovative sustainable business projects at different stages of progress and from different sectors of the economy. The discussion will illustrate how students can utilize their university networks to promote their ideas, implement projects, and scale-up unique business models in order to build a more sustainable workforce and economy.

Poverty Alleviation Working Session

Employment for Empowerment

The job market in America is still weak, particularly for young people. One year after graduation, only 56 percent of the undergraduate class of 2010 is employed, compared to 90 percent of the classes of 2006 and 2007. For military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the unemployment rate in 2010 was 33 percent higher than the national unemployment average. But students and young people are no longer waiting for their parents’ generation to create jobs for them: 20 percent of Millenials have started their own businesses, and 40 percent envision doing so in the future. Unlike many traditional job opportunities, these ventures often come with a double bottom line – young people are helping themselves, while helping others. This session will highlight local problem solvers and recent graduates who are creating jobs for young people, returning military veterans, and other communities where jobs are needed the most.

Public Health Working Session

The Last Mile: Delivering Health Technologies to the Hardest to Reach

Public health interventions often struggle to serve the communities that are most in need. An estimated one billion people, many of whom live far from the reaches of traditional healthcare delivery systems, have no access to basic health services. Health facilities in developing countries face frequent shortages of critical vaccines and medicines, inadequate numbers of doctors and nurses, and high costs that can make a new health technology or drug unavailable to all but the wealthiest patients. Despite the tremendous advances in health over the last century, much more work is needed to ensure an equitable impact across the globe. New models of care are being used to connect with the hardest to reach patients, the patients who are most resistant to services, or those who don’t fit into existing health systems. This session will explore how students and universities can push forward the adaptation and adoption of low-cost, innovative solutions for the delivery of health services. Panelists will share examples of creative and sustainable interventions developed by young leaders and universities designed to bring health services to populations that have the most to gain in health outcomes.

Closing Plenary Session

Closing Conversation with President Clinton and Jon Stewart

In this session, President Clinton and Jon Stewart will hold a candid discussion on some of the most pressing domestic and international issues facing the next generation. This closing conversation will highlight how young people can continue to address these critical challenges with concrete, innovative action.