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Dr. Noah Pickus

 Associate Provost and Senior Advisor, Duke University; Dean of Undergraduate Curricular Affairs and Faculty Development,  Duke Kunshan University; Professor of the Practice, Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy; Academy Leader, Arizona State University and Georgetown
Noah Pickus

Most institutions are scrambling to respond to changes in the external environment: doubts about higher education, rising costs, improving technology, and demographic change. But few have an internally driven innovation system that enables them to anticipate and shape that environment.

Dr. Noah Pickus

Key Interview Takeaways

Taking on issues like inequality and climate change requires universities to put their foot on the gas; fostering an atmosphere in which there is genuine give and take among different perspectives asks universities to tap the brakes and slow down the rush to judgment. It’s difficult, but necessary, for institutions to do both of these at the same time. ​

Most of higher education combines three elements: the brand value of the degree, the social experience, and the education itself, whether vocational skills training or a broader humanistic experience. Consumers haven’t been able to disaggregate these, but we’re starting to see that happening as they question the value of their overall educational experience depending on which parts of that organic experience are now diminished or removed.​

We will see the growth of quality online education. We will also likely see a growing gap between the online experience and a fully augmented residential experience for a small group of students.​


Noah Pickus is Associate Provost and Senior Advisor at Duke University, Dean of Undergraduate Curricular Affairs and Faculty Development at Duke Kunshan University, and Professor of the Practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy. He was previously the Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, the founding director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, and a visiting professor at Middlebury College. An American Council on Education Fellow at Franklin & Marshall College, he co-directs the Arizona State University-Georgetown University Academy for Innovation in Higher Education Leadership Intensive Program. He previously co-directed the Brookings-Duke Immigration Policy Roundtable and is the author of True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration and American Civic Nationalism (Princeton University Press) and Immigration and Citizenship in the 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield), as well as articles and opinion pieces on innovation, globalization, and higher education including Liberal Arts and Sciences Innovation in China: Six Recommendations to Shape the Future.