We will advance Georgia through investing in world-class research and equipping students with marketable skills, knowledge and experience.
Public higher education fosters economic competitiveness through development of a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce and through research and innovation. To achieve this goal, we need to improve the alignment of our degree programs with industry demands and focus on our communities’ need for talent. Institutions must build more partnerships with both local officials as well as Georgia business and economic development leaders and seek their input about educational programs and what knowledge and skills students need to be successful. However, it is likely that many of the jobs our students will compete for in the future are still unknown. As such, we also have to prioritize holistic education that equips our students with essential skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. We need to train our students to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of a rapidly changing economy. We also need to provide students with a variety of hands-on learning opportunities through internships, apprenticeships and experiential learning that are strategically aligned with community and industry needs. Students also need to learn how to communicate their learned skills to employers. Lastly, by educating a diverse student body and equipping all students with essential skills, we can ensure they are prepared, regardless of race, gender, age or socioeconomic status, to enter and succeed in high-demand industries.
We also need to advance and harness the work of our world-class research faculty that contributes to critical advancements for Georgia in areas such as medicine, technology, agriculture and the arts. Research investments lead to innovations that directly advance the economy and also develop infrastructure and communities to attract and retain high-skilled talent.
Strategies for Economic Competitiveness
Redesign General Education Curriculum
Both USG’s College 2025 initiative and the Momentum Approach have demonstrated the need to update the structure and content of USG’s general education curriculum to better prepare students with the skills, knowledge and experience to be successful. Consequently, USG initiated a review in Spring 2019 by a group of faculty, academic administrators and industry leaders and sought public feedback utilizing more than 500 submitted comments to create a draft set of design principles to shape the structure and scope of a new curriculum.
These design principles envision the ideal general education curriculum as:
- Translatable to all settings;
Fostering connections between a coherent body of knowledge and students’ chosen professions;
- Developing 21st-century skills such as data, technology literacy and being able to work in diverse multi-disciplinary teams;
- Preparing students to thrive in the workplace, society and the world; and
- Providing a flexible platform for success through high-quality courses that maintain consistent rigor and foster seamless transfer.
A new implementation commission is now in the process of taking the design principles from idea to execution. This work involves far more than simply designating a more modern set of knowledge and skill areas and identifying courses that deliver them. It will require a redesign of the courses themselves, embedding the design principles across the curriculum and developing a new way of ensuring students achieve mastery of the required knowledge and competency. It is a fundamental shift not only in what we emphasize, but in how we conceptualize, deliver, assess and document completion of general education for all students.
USG has created an innovative new degree type called the nexus degree to provide students more flexible, high-demand and career-oriented academic options. Nexus degrees are planned in collaboration with a major industry sector and consist of 42 credit hours of general education and 18 credit hours focusing on the skills and knowledge requirements of that industry. The degree includes at least six credit hours of experiential learning/internship activities and at least 12 credit hours of upper division coursework. The nexus degree may be offered in a condensed boot-camp format as well as in more traditional formats. It is a flexible credential that can support quick completion of a high-demand career credential for those with some college credit, serve as an alternative to a traditional associate degree or function as a minor in a technical area to those already pursuing bachelor’s degrees.
USG will work over the next four years to assist institutions in collaborating with industry to create these innovative degrees, ensure their quality and rigor through the academic program approval process and promote their existence and benefits to current and potential students. We will also help share ideas about new nexus degree program creation through development and sharing of academic program “playbooks” in high-demand career areas. Finally, USG will track nexus graduate outcomes in the workforce to inform program improvements and assure potential enrollees of the credential’s value.
As Strategic Plan 2024 progresses, additional information will become available for the following strategies: