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Technology & Innovation

The Future of American Universities

USC’s vice provost of innovation, Krisztina “Z” Holly, thinks PhD programs need to change. If you think about it, it takes even the most amazing PhD candidates around the world seven to ten years to become fully productive members of society. “Why is that?,” Holly asks. “It is because they lack the innovation skills. They lack the skills of understanding how they fit into the innovation ecosystem, how they fit in, how they communicate their ideas and how they address real world problems.”

That’s why USC is launching an innovation diploma program for PhD students, free of charge. “We’re not trying to turn PhDs into business people,” she says. “We want to keep them as researchers at the cutting edge of their field … The reality is if you’re going to be the absolute best you have to be very specialized, but that doesn’t preclude you from understanding how to communicate with others that can take your idea and make it into something really impactful.”

That’s not the only aspect of higher education that’s going to change over the next few years. Over 5,000 new open-access journals have popped up online that are circumventing the typical peer-reviewed printed journal publications. What does this mean for research? It’s somewhat controversial and raises important questions: how do you get to benefit from your own data that you’ve worked so hard to collect and publish on? How long is it appropriate to hold back that data before you share it with other people?


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