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MSU panel preaches educational diversity

September 28, 2016
Professor Kenneth Merz speaks during a Sharper Focus/Wider Lens panel hosted by the Honors College on Sept. 27, 2016 in the Main Library. Merz spoke on some difficulties facing students in STEM fields.
Professor Kenneth Merz speaks during a Sharper Focus/Wider Lens panel hosted by the Honors College on Sept. 27, 2016 in the Main Library. Merz spoke on some difficulties facing students in STEM fields. —
Photo by Emilia McConnell | The State News

MSU experts discussed potential student outlooks in years to come on Tuesday at the Brave New Workplace: The Next Careers? panel. 

The event was a part of a series of panels called Sharper Focus/Wider Lens, said human resources and labor relations associate professor John Beck, the Honors College professor in charge of the events. He said panels are a way to get people from different areas of study together to discuss important issues. 

“This is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to get together with a panel of MSU experts who are committed to having a trans-disciplinary conversation about a big topic,” he said. “Trans-disciplinary conversations that go on across disciplines don’t happen as much as you would hope they would in a university setting. This is an opportunity to recreate those times when people can talk about trans-disciplinary matters because a lot of the biggest questions are the ones that really matter and we don’t often get the chance to talk about them across disciplines.”

The Brave New Workplace panelists included: Kenneth Szymusiak, who is the head of entrepreneurial education in the Eli Broad College of Business, Angela Hall, who is an assistant professor in the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Cheryl Sisk, a neuroscience professor, Karl Gude, the director of the Media Sandbox and Kenneth Merz, director for the Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research. 

Beck said he finds panelists in a variety of ways. Sometimes they’re people he already knows, while others he finds on the internet. One way or another, they all contribute to the topic and add to the hopefully rollicking discussion of the future, he said. 

“All of them arguably represent some of the places where one would look to say what’s happening in the future,” Beck said. “What’s happening in the STEM fields? What’s happening in the whole issue of data analytics, what’s happening really with media and all of the things that are connected to that. And what’s happening with this whole notion of entrepreneurship, because many people will end up working not for someone else, but end up working for themselves.”

All of the speakers spoke to their specific fields, but all consistently spoke about growth Beck said. 

One speaker, Hall, said generations before ours stayed in the same jobs for years because they felt stuck. She said this is not the case with the current generation as they have more of a, “Protean Career — You are the captain of your own ship!”

“Research has found that emotional intelligence is exponentially more important than your general intelligence," she said. “Constantly be able to change and get the skills you need.”

Zoology and history junior Katherine Magoulick said she didn’t know what to expect going into the event, but said the information she received was valuable. 

“I really appreciate what they said about just being a more diverse person and also being able to teach students in different ways and making sure that they all learn, regardless of their background and where they’re coming from so I thought that was really interesting,” she said. “Also it sort of reinforced, even though I have to take a lot more classes, the fact I have two different majors and a minor I think that was a really good decision.”

Each of the panelists were given eight minutes to present their information. Afterward they were given time to have an inter-panel discussion before opening up the floor to questions, Beck said. After questions, the speakers were allowed to make closing remarks. 

Hall ended it by saying she hoped the brave new workplace would be more open and available for those who had been excluded from the workforce before. 

The next panel will be Looking at Flint: The Past, Present and Future of the City and will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Union Ballroom. Students who cannot attend can also watch their livestream.  

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