When the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State was established twenty years ago, the idea was to “put ideas into action and to ensure the state’s future success.” In the preceding years, the annual Emerging Issues forum has brought to light issues and changing dynamics that potentially create greater opportunity for North Carolina’s continued competitiveness or pose challenges to that vision. Through the forums, the state’s leadership and citizens have examined issues ranging from tax policy to creativity and from energy and the environment to healthcare.
This year’s forum promises to be equally thought provoking. On Monday and Tuesday of next week, people from around the state will gather at the Raleigh Convention Center to listen to insights into the challenges that face Gen Z — that cadre born between 1990-2000 who have come of age not knowing what life before Google was like and who (as reported in a recent Cisco poll) would rather lose their purse or wallet than their smartphone device. (And many of whom — I would wager– wouldn’t know what I am referring to when I note that Obi Wan looks a lot different with brown hair in the current Star Wars movie….).
The conversation will force baby boomers and Gen Xers to think through ways to better integrate this upcoming generation into our workforce and will look at trends that will have significant impacts on the skills that they need — and may not need — to realize their goals.
Speakers from around the country include Robert Safian, Editor, Fast Company Magazine, Sally Jewell, President & CEO, REI, Ami Dar, Founder & Executive Director, Idealist.org, Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, U.S. Navy, and Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University (I’m especially interested in President Crow’s comments; I’m a former Sun Devil (employee) and was living in Phoenix when he began transforming ASU into the New American University).
In addition, some of our best local thinkers — including former Governor Hunt, Mike Walden, Madhu Beriwal, Chancellor Woodson, President Ross, and Ted Zoller — will be featured, as well as a great representation from the state’s high schools, community colleges and university system.
And most fun of all, IEI will award its Prize for Innovation during the conference. This year’s prize challenged both college and high school teams to come up with innovative ideas to increase North Carolina’s high school graduation rate. Videos of the finalist candidates are online. Voting started Monday and will close Monday, Feb 6 at 5 PM.
Registration closes this afternoon. If you weren’t able to sign up to join the discussion and fun, no worries — they’ll be live-streaming many of the talks. (And I’m sure #NCGenZ on Twitter will be busy).
Finally — kudos and thanks to Diane Cherry, Anita Brown Graham and all of the IEI staff for pulling together such a great program.