Knowledge, Care, and Engagement: Roth on the Future of Education

“Why are you in school?”

President Michael Roth spoke this weekend at the Social Good Summit, a two-day conference for leaders and activists to discuss the challenges facing our world and the role of technology in addressing them. In a talk titled “The Future of Education,” Roth asserts that those who seek to protect the status quo feel threatened by education – particularly of girls and the poor – because it is through education that we change the world. The last decade has seen a rise in anti-intellectualism and resistance or opposition to education, and Roth explains that “people are threatened by new forms of empowerment that come from spreading knowledge, spreading care and engagement, and by spreading skills for change.”

After discussing his MOOC “How to Change the World” – which was influenced by his experiences at the 2013 Social Good Summit, and which had over 100,000 people in its two iterations – Roth compels those who have been fortunate enough to attend school to recall why they got their education. As consuming as grades or money may be in the moment, the success of a college or university is marked not by graduates’ GPAs or starting salaries, but by whether they’ve been empowered to do what they want to do, to achieve the things that matter to them and their communities.

So, how successful has your Wesleyan education been? When you look at yourself and your classmates, do you see “excellent sheep” or people gearing up to change the world? Are you reading and writing a maintenance guide for the status quo, or learning what truly sets your heart aflame? For inspiration and perspective, check out talks by President Roth and many other speakers from the Social Good Summit.