To Be Competitive,
You Need a Global Education
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By Joseph s. Francisco
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COURTES Y OF JOSEPH S. FRANCISCO
Today’s chemistry students will make tomorrow’s discoveries and develop the innovations to protect our planet and improve the health
and well-being of its inhabitants. You will carry on
the mission of the ACS “to advance the broader
chemical enterprise and practitioners for the benefit
of Earth and its people.” As ACS president, one of
my goals is to give you a competitive edge in an
increasingly global chemical enterprise.
In a survey of executives at 400 companies,
nearly 75% said recent four-year graduates displayed only “adequate”
professionalism on ethics, creativity, innovation, and critical thinking
and problem solving. Yet, as Tamara J. Erickson points out in her book
The Outlines of Your Generation: Demographic Characteristics of Generation
Y (Harvard Business Publishing), these are key factors for hiring. Given
these facts, what will current and future chemistry students need to do
to be competitive and get jobs in the U.S. and global marketplaces? As I
wrote in the Journal of Chemical Education (2008, Vol. 85, p. 1338), “The
bottom line is: Global skills are important in getting the job, keeping the
job, and getting ahead in the job.” So, how do you acquire such skills?
It is no longer sufficient to simply to go school and learn the basics
of chemistry and chemical engineering. If you dream of making contributions on the world stage, your studies should include observing
and collaborating with scientists around the world. I strongly encourage
you to explore and take advantage of the ACS International Research
Experiences for Undergraduates program for chemical science majors.
During the coming year, key players from industry, academia, and
government will outline the training students need to be competitive
candidates in the international workplace. A working group is currently
exploring the creation of an ACS International Center to promote an
international exchange of students and scientists with the goal of providing experiences and innovative ideas to our students. The International
Center would help keep the chemistry student pipeline populated and
encourage the flow of groundbreaking research into our country.
This pipeline of chemistry students needs to include all demographics
of American society. ACS has several excellent diversity initiatives, such
as Project SEED, ACS Scholars, Diversity Partner, and diversity awards,
but we must still be on the lookout for further opportunities to reach out
to all segments of our society.
Today, while teachers have never been more essential, the focus needs
to shift dramatically from imparting content knowledge to empowering
students with fundamental key processes to enable them to conduct
their own learning and compete globally. If you need more information,
go to http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~francisc/, or you can also contact me
at firstname.lastname@example.org. iC
Compiled by Blake Aronson,
Senior Education Associate, ACS.
Joseph s. Francisco is president of ACS, a chemist, and the
William E. Moore Distinguished Professor at Purdue University.