January 24th, 2013
07:44 AM GMT
Editor’s Note: Members of the Young Global Leaders forum at the World Economic Forum in Davos share some of their ideas for innovative ways to boost the economy and unleash intellectual capital.
(CNN) – Is 20% youth unemployment in the western world inevitable?
Will generations of young workers be condemned to precarious work conditions in developed economies, or persistent poverty in the emerging ones?
This doesn’t have to be the new reality. If we consider that just as the “knowledge economy” defined the 20th century, the “creative economy” will dominate the next.
We must accept that in a world where traditional skills and labor will be outsourced and automated, logic will take us from a to b, but creativity will take us everywhere.
The lure of visual culture is pervasive – fuelling phenomena like Facebook, Instagram, Vice Media and the like.
But the state of culture-based education is in crisis. The arts are being carved out from curricula, at the very time...
To stimulate innovation, we must re-invent the way we study humanities. And to achieve that, museums must be put in the picture, not just in the frame.
I want to convince you of three ideas:
1. That creativity will be a survival skill of the future
2. That the props and people within museums are essential resources for learning
3. That by embracing technology and forging innovative partnerships, museums will become the fiery muses that set the world’s innovation alight, and not the mausoleums where art just goes to die
You may already buy into the first idea, given widespread data from urban theorists like Richard Florida, confirming that culture brings economic benefit in very measurable ways.
It’s not surprising that governments from Singapore to Sao Paolo are racing to “teach” innovation. China too has started championing this premise; recognizing that long-term, being cheapest may carry too high a price.
This is where I see the vital role of the museum.
For 2,000 years museums have held an exalted place in society, built on the belief that through objects, they tell the history of how humans shape the world – and have been shaped by it.
In 2012, just over half of youth in the UK attended a museum or public gallery – that’s more than go to football matches. The same is true in France.
But how can museums stay true to the educational premise on which they were conceived - in the face of tighter budgets and global recession?
How can they teach record numbers of people philosophy, history, literature and art, in a way that leads to a greater understanding of the world?
The answer lies in partnerships with entrepreneurs and industry to forge co-collaborative models and prototypes, like those emerging in the sciences and maths
As you know, the spiraling cost of education has driven universities and visionary educators to pioneer massive open online courses:
So why can’t the pillars of arts education be similarly reconstructed?
In fairness, select museums are responding slowly, but demand far outstrips supply.
And visionary museums like Tate are encouraging Google Art Project to come in and digitize great artworks online, bringing masters to the masses.
This is not about supplanting the quasi-religious experience of seeing Rothko’s RED in jpeg format. Nor is it calling for the demise of the physical museum any more than Coursera is calling for the death of the university. It’s about bringing the assets of museums to unprecedented numbers in unprecedented ways
It’s time for museums to change the face of education.
It’s time for the private sector and for governments to recognise the true value of the arts.
– Yana Peel, CEO, Intelligence Squared, Hong Kong
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