New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Building the Foundational Skills Needed for Success in Work at the Human-Technology Frontier

Sarita Pillai, Education Development Center (United States)

Joyce Malyn-Smith, Education Development Center (United States)

Caroline Parker, Education Development Center (United States)

David Blustein, Boston College (United States)

Ellen Gutowski, Boston College (United States)

A.J. Diamonti, Boston College (United States)


Around the globe the world of work is rapidly changing, driven by multiple levers including machine learning, artificial intelligence, the internet-of-things, and robotics. To address the scientific and technical challenges of the future of work and productivity, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) proposes a bold initiative, Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Shaping the Future. The NSF initiative is spurring the interdisciplinary science education and teaching research needed to maximize the potential success of individuals in the global, technology-driven workplace of the future. In this session, the authors will present findings from their report, “Building the foundational skills needed for success at work at the human-technology frontier”. Building on the NSF’s initiative encouraging research on the future of work, the report explores the future of scientific and other work, the importance of work for social stability and human fulfilment, the challenges associated with broadening participation in future work to communities traditionally underrepresented in science, the psycho-social factors affecting career development at the Human-Technology Frontier and the importance of early science education interventions. It shares current thinking about skills and knowledge needed for success in those emerging work environments drawn from both existing literature and interviews with future forward thinkers working at today’s Human-Technology Frontier. The paper closes by proposing policy levers for the development of a robust STEM workforce. These issues have attracted much attention in recent months by economists and workforce development specialists anticipating substantive changes in work brought about by swiftly developing technologies. Most current discussions of the future of work fail to identify the scientific knowledge/skills that will be needed for work at that Frontier and what scientific competencies should be included in education programs designed to prepare future workers for success in those environments. This paper adds to that discussion by describing specific characteristics of those new work environments and science competencies that need to be included in formal, primary and secondary education systems to prepare current students for future success at that Frontier.

Keywords: human technology frontier, interdisciplinary science education, career development;


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