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Teaching Innovation – Implications for China, India and America

Teaching Innovation – Implications for China, India and America

Executive Summary – In March 2007, Emory University and the India, China and America Institute organized a conference on Teaching Innovation and its Implications for the three countries. A report on the conference, authored by Robert L DeHaan and Mark Hutchson brought out the scope for collaborative and cooperative growth between the three countries. Will the future see these countries competing with each other for the best minds?

In early March 2007 over one hundred participants from New Delhi, Beijing and Jerusalem gathered at a conference on Education for Innovation in India, China and America. The conference was held in Atlanta and acknowledged that innovation will be the driving factor for economic development in the 21st century.

The conference was sponsored by Emory University and India, China and America Institute (ICAI). Ten renowned speakers and an audience that constituted of government officials, educators, policymakers, students, representatives of the corporate community discussed important issues on Teaching Innovation.

ICAI promoted this conference to promote sustainable non-government independent platforms to identify, recognize and drive synergies among India, China and America. The focus was on emerging markets, commercial growth and alignment of policies for the benefit of a vast number of people.

ICAI was founded by Jagdish N. Sheth of Emory University to help policy-makers, business leaders and academicians understand the growing importance of the Indian, Chinese, US tri-lateral relationship and to encourage discussion and research regarding the impact this relationship will have on themselves as well as on the rest of the world. The conference also looked at the measures these three large countries must take to develop in harmonious and cooperative ways rather than in competition with each other.

The new world order is characterized by economics and human capital replacing political philosophy as the driving forces of national policy. Increasing innovative capability is therefore a critical component of future growth. Even such a country as the US with a long history of innovation, massive research institutions and the ability to draw the brightest minds together, must continuously improve its innovative capabilities to maintain its leadership role.

As the world flattens, inexpensive labor in other parts of the world will draw away manufacturing and labor away from China and India. Therefore, India and China would have to move up the scale so that they become sources of product development, creativity and marketing instead of being mere workshops. Only this upward move will sustain growth at a pace that can lift large sections of their populations from poverty.

There are many impediments to this increase in innovative capacity. The US is hamstrung by obsolete teaching methods, rote learning and the emergence of other centers that draw the best minds away. The barrier in China is more cultural. The social system in China encourages hierarchy and uniformity and a system of rote learning is a major barrier to innovation.

The situation in India is a little better as regards innovation. There is a more open attitude towards innovation and innovative thinking. However, India has its own problems of a severely limited educational infrastructure and a large rural population that is still struggling to get basic necessities.

A unique aspect of the ICAI conference was the fact that it looked at India, China and the US from a tri-lateral lens. This approach is important since these countries will dominate the world in market power and political influence. Debate on how innovative capacity would play a pivotal role in developing this relationship was a guiding question for the conference.

Opening remarks by Robert DeHaan stressed that the guiding question was not innovative education but education for innovation. The question, he noted was, whether countries could educate their children and their workforce to maximize ingenuity and inventiveness? A related question was how would such an education effect national growth and competitiveness?

Jagdish Seth, the founder of the ICAI referred to explosive growth in China and India and the impact this was having on the rest of the world. He discussed that the response of the world and the US in particular would need to be an increase in R&D, scouting for and hiring global talent and encouraging students to come to the US for higher study. The resulting competition in this domain must stay cooperative and collaborative rather than hostile or combative.

After various speakers explained their viewpoints, the panel summarized that inventiveness and ingenuity can be fostered by appropriate learning strategies. These strategies can be disseminated to larger sections of the population using open education and distance learning methods. China and India have the potential to overtake the US in economic terms but these countries have to overcome their cultural and educational barriers first.

Note: The preceding is a summary of an article found though our research, and is provided here with editorial comment for members only. Please see the full article at the following link for full original content.

The New Asia Innovation Team