UNC students, chancellor in digital town hall on jobs, economy

When some of the nation’s brightest minds came together to talk about the future of the American economy, Carolina was in the spotlight. UNC-Chapel Hill – represented by both Chancellor Holden Thorp and students – was one of two universities featured in a digital town hall discussion on Feb. 9 in Washington, D.C.

The conversation, “Finding Work, Finding Our Way: Building the Economy & Jobs of the Future,” was open to anyone who wanted to join. More than 2,200 online viewers followed the conversation with around 200 in-studio participants. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends asked the experts questions online at www.jobsandeconomy.com. Some questions were submitted in advance. Prior to the event, the conversation started on Twitter. Look for #USFutureEconomy. The discussion streamed live at www.theatlantic.com.

Watch these four videos that show Carolina’s students bringing innovation to their work in science, social entrepreneurship and service to children.

Timothy Merkel talks about the creation of a synthetic particle that mimics blood.

Carolina for Amani raises money for New Life Orphanages in Kenya and East Africa.

CEF provides small loans to homeless or the impoverished, along with financial literacy training, skills-building workshops and counseling.

Social Media Stories is a social media consulting business, where undergrads work with nonprofits and community organizations. For a small fee, students create a social media campaign that centers on the positive effect the non-profit had on a client.

In his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama emphasized the importance of universities driving innovation to build and sustain a successful American economy in the decades to come. It’s the same topic Chancellor Thorp discussed with New York Times columnist David Brooks last month.

Wednesday’s town hall discussion included a wide range of experts to address job creation, American competitiveness and more. Participants included Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; Julius Genachowski, chairman, Federal Communications Commission; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; Gene Sperling, director, National Economic Council; Safi Bahcall, director, president and CEO, Synta Pharmaceuticals; Paul Freedman, CEO, Altius Education; Kenneth Lieberthal, director of the John L. Thornton China Center and senior fellow in foreign policy and global economy and development, The Brookings Institution; and Shazi Visram, founder and CEO, HAPPYBABY.

Today’s college students have the largest stake in America’s economic future, and they will be major participants in the digital town hall discussion. Students from Carolina and Miami University (Ohio) will share their thoughts on the job market and more through live webcasts from their campuses. In addition, several students have showcased some of their research, innovations and thoughts on the economy in a series of web videos produced for the event.

Thorp was on a panel highlighting rising entrepreneurship in the United States. He co-authored “Engines of Innovation –The Entrepreneurial University in the 21st Century,” with Buck Goldstein, University Entrepreneur in Residence, and published by the UNC Press. He is an inaugural member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, created by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Finding Work, Finding Our Way: Building the Economy & Jobs of the Future” was sponsored by Microsoft and hosted by The Atlantic Magazine. PBS NewsHour Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff hosted the discussion. While the live discussion lasted only a few hours, the actual conversation continued online.

Last year, Carolina launched the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, UNC’s plan to help Carolina become a world leader in launching university-born ideas for the good of society. To learn more about the roadmap, visit innovate.unc.edu.