HYBRID SEMINAR - GCP: Education, 20-Somethings, and Competition


This event will be held in a hybrid format, and the Potomac Institute will welcome a limited number of individuals to attend in-person at their Arlington Headquarters (901 N. Stuart Street, Arlington, VA 22203). Participants will have to opportunity to indicate their interest in the registration form. The Institute adheres to the most current CDC recommendations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and all in-person attendees will be required to attest to their vaccination status.

Register: https://potomacinstitute-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/3216395991947/WN_GrgP2Ey-Sf2lfmEWBEK-lQ

About the Event

The United States is often recognized as having the world’s best education system. Unsurprisingly, the top end of the rankings is regularly comprised of wealthy, Western-style, OECD countries. However, while the U.S. may have the “best” education system on the planet, students in the United States are falling behind in reading, writing, and math – precipitously. Depending on the year and the survey, students in the United States will fall somewhere between 15th and 40th in the world compared to students in other nations in literacy and numeracy. Why are students in the U.S. struggling to maintain competitive scores in basic education within the world’s greatest education system, and how does that translate to our nation’s ability to compete and thrive on the world stage in the future?

The resilience and efficacy of a nation’s education directly impacts a nation’s ability to compete on the global stage over time, with each generation building on the success of those preceding. The United States’ ascent as a modern global superpower was due in part to its post-World War II posture on the world stage, but also heavily reliant on technological and intellectual advantages. In the 21st Century, the landscape has shifted. Students in peer-competitor nations are surpassing young Americans across the education spectrum. What does this trend say about the prospects of American leadership and prosperity in the future?

In 21st Century America, only 2% of people are working the land, 10% are working in industry, and the last 88% are knowledge workers—a trend unlikely to reverse. To remain competitive, the U.S. must be equipped to educate and train its population accordingly, to include prioritizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as a vital part of the equation for success. How can policymakers, along with business leaders and academia assure that focus and leverage nascent talent to posture the U.S. for enduring competitive advantage?

Tomorrow’s generation will have to grapple with the implications of education policies emplaced by today’s generation of leaders. How do we best bridge that gap while inspiring ingenuity, creativity, and the entrepreneurial spirit—elements vital to America’s historical success and prosperity as a nation?

Ultimately, education is a whole-of-society challenge that must be understood and addressed for the United States to remain competitive on the world stage. Where do we go from here?



The Honorable Al Shaffer, Former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment; Member of the Board of Regents at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

Dr. Patricia Falcone, Deputy Director for Science and Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

Dr. Dan Hastings, Head of Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of the School of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Ms. Joy Shanaberger, CEO and Founding Partner of the Boone Group; Former Special Assistant for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

Mr. Trevor Huffard, Research Assistant and Science & Technology Policy Internship Program Coordinator at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies


About the Project

The Global Competition Project (GCP) commissions a spectrum of experts from diverse fields to present insights as to the primary challenges/opportunities associated with societal level competition in the Information Age. The Potomac Institute will host a series of seminars to foster animated discussion on a variety of topics important to the Institute’s work – and global societal interaction – and publish associated articles on the topics.