Paper model of buildings
Paper model of buildings
Paper models of buildings

Reimagining Equitable Education
& the Future of Work

Co-leads: Earl Lewis (Director and Founder, Center for Social Solutions/College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) and Elizabeth Birr Moje (Dean, School of Education)

Group members: Rita Chin (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts/Rackham School of Graduate Studies), James DeVaney (Center for Academic Innovation), Domenico Grasso (Chancellor, UM-Dearborn), Joe Kolars (Michigan Medicine), Maggie Levenstein (Institute for Social Research), Carla O’Connor (School of Education), Debbie Rivas-Drake (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts), Rob Sellers (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts/Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), Anya Sirota (Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning), Geoff Thun (Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)

Education needs a reset. How might we reimagine lifelong learning and the future of work?

The Challenge

While people everywhere have the ability to learn and achieve, access and opportunity are not evenly distributed. Our current social structures and learning systems often compound these inequities and further fragment our society, with countless social, health, democratic, and economic consequences. 

How important is improving our educational and working systems to you?

The Vision

We envision a society where all members can flourish: one where everyone can imagine a viable future with meaningful learning and work opportunities for themselves, regardless of age, location, ability, and social status.  

The University of Michigan is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge. Throughout the lifespan, people may access and explore a complex continuum of growth, education, vocational, professional, and lifelong learning opportunities that are fundamental to our purpose, identity, and overall well-being.

As a premier research institution, U-M has a bounty of ongoing research, practice, and community programs designed to address these challenges at various entry points. We have a prime opportunity to leverage our breadth and depth of expertise across the full spectrum of education, academic innovation, society, technology, and the arts.  

Through a principled lens with a public service ethos, we aim to disrupt traditional approaches and move toward a more equitable, inclusive, and just society. We will launch a transformation—at every stage of life—so that all have the opportunity to thrive.

How well does this vision resonate with you?

The Initial Bold Ideas

The best education research and advances provide opportunities for collaboration, learning, and accessibility in new and different ways. Now is the time to disrupt and transform how this spectrum of learning opportunities is constructed, enacted, accessed, and experienced at all stages of life. 

These are immense tasks, and our approach must be systemic, coherent, planful, and intentional. With U-M’s expansive network, we can evaluate what is underway and connect the myriad ways that U-M can tackle the challenge at multiple entry points, building connections, implementing strategies, and evaluating their effectiveness. Ultimately, we will enact system-focused, scalable, and translational practices, policies, and strategies that have a broad impact on our state, country, and world. 

In each dimension of this lifelong continuum, we have identified research, public scholarship, academic, and service programs at U-M that address related sets of problems. Together we are building the connective tissue necessary to coordinate an engine for transformation in a way that prepares all learners for just and equitable futures.


Education disruption & transformation engine

Breaking the power of race and zip code in determining educational and life opportunities, from prenatal through high school U-M has a robust portfolio of programming across all three campuses, all centered around breaking down barriers of access and opportunity in underserved communities. The Engine will bring together leaders of these various initiatives, developing a unifying commitment and cohesive strategy—from research to pedagogy to practice—that more effectively aligns programs and enhances impact.


MI Corps: a catalyst for collaborative, action-based learning

This corps will ensure all U-M students—across levels and disciplines—experience practical, action-based team research projects or programs at U-M, along with meaningful internship experiences. These real-world experiences will expose students to critical societal problems and strengthen their ability to contribute meaningfully as future leaders. Building upon existing school/college programs, this effort will be administered and led through a well-resourced coordinating unit.  


Blended futures: lifelong learning beyond campus

We will transform U-M’s educational model to make our world-class learning experiences accessible, expanding high-quality, lifelong learning opportunities beyond our campuses with a focus on equity, inclusion, and problem solving around societal challenges. With an advanced Michigan Online platform, we will extend U-M’s reach to support upskilling for an educated Michigan workforce, increase access through pre-college learning programs, create Michigan Online academies to tackle societal problems, and more. 


Innovations that work: creating the just workplace of the future

The nature and structure of work systems are changing dramatically, and we need solutions that sustain improvements in the quality of life—a society where the human-technology frontier does not leave people behind, but enables people to secure more opportunities. 

U-M will build an innovation engine, consisting of researchers, students, community and labor organizations, and businesses focused on challenges across various workforce sectors in a variety of settings. Interdisciplinary teams will collect, create, and share relevant data; design and evaluate experiments, interventions, and prototypes; develop and test models and policies; and prepare students to participate in and shape the workplace of the future.

Which of the bold ideas in this section spoke to you the most, and why?

Which do you think is least important for us to pursue, and why?

Are there other bold ideas related to this concept that we are missing?

Who are thought leaders in your network that might be interested in providing insights or feedback on this concept?