“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.”
New world challenges demand a new type of professionals:
Our most profound problems tend to 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.
Mismatch between job seekers and employers who cannot find talent:
Despite its expertise in providing a first-class intellectual grounding, universities today are beset by calls from both students and their eventual employers to provide opportunities for more experiential learning. According to a study published in the Fall of 2010 by the US Institute for Peace, 90% of faculty/staff at graduate programs in the broad field of peace studies/conflict resolution believe they are preparing their students adequately for careers in this field. Yet more than 50% of employers disagree. In September 2011, The Economist dedicated an entire Special Report to the growing mismatch between increasing unemployment and increasing numbers of employers who cannot find the talent they need.
This matches our experience in the field of social entrepreneurship – more and more CEOs of social enterprises are saying that the biggest constraint to their growth is finding the right staff. As John Marks, the President of Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest peacebuilding NGO exclaims, “We’re the biggest organization in this sector and nobody from a university has ever asked us what we’re looking for.”
This failure deeply affects our world, and in many critical fields such as peacebuilding and health and disaster relief, it has a major cost in the loss of lives that could have been prevented by better-trained professionals.