“All the interesting problems cross boundaries. Some straddle disciplines. Some require co-operation between business, government, academia and non-profit groups. So you have to train people to cross boundaries.”
- David Ellwood, Dean, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
New-World challenges demand a new breed of professional
Our most profound problems cross national boundaries, requiring not just interdisciplinary thought but also interlocking experiences to understand them. They call upon problem-solvers to submit their whole being in the service of creating sustainable change. And in this world of accelerating problems, the most important thing to do is help more people become problem-solvers.
The Amani Institute envisions a world without boundaries. These are boundaries between nations and, therefore, between peoples. Boundaries between religions and disciplines and ideologies. Boundaries between the classroom and society, between working for a living and working for meaning. We envision Amani Institute students seeing themselves as global changemakers – able to operate flexibly and freely wherever they are called to go, living and working in ways that transcend boundaries. And in the course of their lives and the model they set for others, these individuals practice this identity and develop its meaning and strength and wisdom.
The Market Failure in Higher Education
In September 2011, the Economist’s Special Report “The Great Mismatch” explored the divide between employers needing talent and the high level of unemployment around the world. The US Institute of Peace, the global youth organization AIESEC, the premier consulting (McKinsey) and human resources (Manpower) firms, and a major think-tank (Institute for the Future) all have publications exploring why CEOs increasingly claim that their biggest constraint to growth is finding the right staff. Click here to read these and other similar publications.
Our own survey of 54 leading organizations (reported on by Fast Company magazine in February 2013) confirmed these global findings also hold true for the jobs economy of the social sector. What employers value in incoming recruits isn’t provided adequately by universities, and vice-versa, what universities do well isn’t valued highly by employers. The core finding: future leaders of social change need to train for their careers through internships, skill development workshops, and field experiences.
All this external data resonated with the experiences of co-founders Ilaina Rabbat and Roshan Paul, who have together worked more than 25 years in social change, in every continent, and witnessed firsthand both the inadequacies of their top-ranked higher educations and the qualities needed by successful agents of change around the world.
There is a critical market failure in higher education. Though universities are beset by calls to provide more opportunities for experiential learning and building skills, they cannot re-tool their infrastructures fast enough to enable this transition. Our mission is to develop and spread a new model of education and training to encourage this transition towards 21st century approaches for career preparation and leadership development.