It’s an economic paradox. As more and more manufacturing jobs have left Ohio, sometimes for the other side of the globe, technology has made the world in which we all do business seem a lot smaller.
A Walsh University alumnus has launched a think tank at the university to help cities adapt to this new economic world order: The Intelligent Community Forum Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community. Co-founded by Walsh 1978 grad Louis Zacharilla, the ICF institute will use technology and a consortium of academics, politicians and businesses leaders to work on ways to keep local economies growing after large industries have left town.
The project was unveiled this month at a luncheon on the main campus in North Canton. It is the first ICF Institute in the U.S. in the area of education.
Zacharilla explained how the local institute would work: “What we’re going to do at Walsh is to make it a go-to place for any political leader, academic leader, business leader or thought leader who wants to figure out how to keep their community prospering in the 21st century.” Technology has the potential to allow virtually everyone to participate in the global economy, Zacharilla said, no matter where they live.
Walsh President Richard Jusseaume said the university will bring together people and resources that will make the main campus a hub for the new knowledge-based economy. According to Jusseaume, the necessary elements include a trained workforce, academic, business and political officials who are committed to working together and an electronic infrastructure that includes the availability of high-speed broadband
Intelligent Community Forum organizers liken access to broadband to the railroad boom of the 1800s. The railroad brought goods to small towns and made the entire country accessible. Broadband, ICF organizers said, would bring knowledge from 100 other ICF sites to Walsh, either physically or virtually, and make the global economy more accessible to small towns like North Canton, which once relied on one or two large manufacturers for jobs.
“There is no better place, no better factory for the production of knowledge than a university,” Zacharilla said. “So a university is the engine of the new economy... the engine, not only an ivory tower.”
In practical terms, the job of the ICF Institute at Walsh will be to find the best ways teachers are educating students for the global economy and make those models available to teachers and universities, wherever the institutions are located.
“For the most part our schools are still preparing to educate students for the Industrial Age,” said Jackie DeGarmo, a former Plain Schools superintendent who is now project director for the institute at Walsh.
As DeGarmo explained it, educating the old way trains students for a task; educating students for a knowledge-based economy gives them the tools to create new tasks.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’re trying to instill a creative confidence in all our students,” DeGarmo said. “We want students to understand the nature of the global economy, and that they will likely work on teams that consist of members from around the world.”
The first gathering of the ICF international advisors is being planned for June. The first global seminar will be at Walsh this fall.
Sidebar: What will the ICF do at Walsh?
- Bring what it calls thought leaders, such as premiers, mayors, and city managers to North Canton to discuss how communities can be transformed by using broadband and technology to connect them to the world.
- Investigate new models of teacher training, which focus on connecting students and teachers around the world.
- Support and teach the principles of the ICF movement to communities interested in reinventing themselves, serve as a technology resource for communities and host an annual symposium.
- Support Walsh University's commitment to global literacy, develop an international community exchange program of scholars, students, community, political and business leaders.