08/08/2012 04:32 pm ET Updated Oct 08, 2012

The Greatness of a Generation Hangs in the Balance

Higher education is getting a makeover, whether it wants one or not. Truth is, with online education -- free online education! -- being offered by many of the finest institutions in the world, we don't even know what the future holds.

What we do know, however, is that gaining the skills that make one competitive in the global economy is in higher demand each day, and the way we deliver those skills is failing to keep up.

The situation is dire for many institutions. Bigger buildings, more funded professorships and even bigger endowments are not answering the fundamental question for colleges and universities nationwide: How might we increase our value to our students?

ThinkImpact and our network of partners feel that this question might very well be the central challenge for a generation. After all, if we cannot adequately prepare young people for the workforce, to think critically, to empathically solve problems and to build opportunities, then the future is indeed rather bleak.

Our answer to this is The Huddle on experiential education in social entrepreneurship. The goal is to bring institutions that are looking at innovative ways of answering the question posed above. Creating experiences that transform the way people think and live in a highly complex globalized society will determine the future.

The approach is simple. Bring together the faculty and administrators of programs from a multitude of disciplines and turn the old way of thinking through problems upside down. Confront assumptions, appreciate what is already in practice, and aggressively iterate to create value. Participating university representatives will actually experience the curriculum we spent six years building, and will walk away with tangible solutions to create life-changing experiential education programs for their campus community.

Doing so is essential. There is no better way to tackle global education challenges than by actually doing something. Meanwhile, a great deal is at stake in the battle to develop the tools among students that will lead to the next great social innovations of our time. It's time for the meeting of the minds.

If universities embrace a creative process, cross-pollinate and build better, then it won't be the buildings that they are most proud of. It will be the world-changing solutions that were seeded on their campus.