At Stanford, experts, thought leaders, visionaries to discuss the future of work

The Future of Work Symposium, organized by Stanford Career Education, will take place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 30 at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center.

In recent months, Farouk Dey, dean of Stanford Career Education, found himself engaged in one conversation after another with students and colleagues about how fundamental shifts in education, technology, industry and society were affecting the nature of work.

Farouk Dey

Farouk Dey, dean of Stanford Career Education, organized the Future of Work Symposium which will be held Aug. 30 on campus. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

“With the rise in artificial intelligence and automation, the world of work is rapidly changing,” said Dey, who has led the transformation of career education at Stanford, which is now known as Bridging Education, Ambition & Meaningful Work, or BEAM.

Dey, an associate vice provost of student affairs, decided it was time to gather experts, thought leaders and visionaries to explore the topic in depth at a symposium – and that Stanford would be the perfect host for the event.

He organized the Future of Work Symposium, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center.

Dey said the event attracted more interest than he had anticipated. Nearly three dozen speakers accepted his invitation to join the symposium. And more than 300 people – representing more than 100 universities and organizations from across the country, Canada and other nations – have registered for the daylong event.

The symposium, designed as “a confluence of education, media and industry,” will include keynote addresses, fireside chats and workshops. While the event is aimed at educators and other professionals, Dey set aside a limited number of free tickets for students.

The roster of keynote speakers includes several Stanford leaders: Harry J. Elam, Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education and vice president for the arts; Tina Seelig, a professor of the practice in management science and engineering, and faculty director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program; and Margaret Levi, a professor of political science and director at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, co-founders of the Stanford Life Design Lab and authors of the 2016 book, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, will lead participants in an interactive workshop.

In addition to investors, educators, authors and executives, the list of speakers includes representatives of start-up companies that are using new technologies to transform campus recruiting, to help Fortune 500 companies build stronger, more inclusive organizations, and to help college graduates discover their career paths.

Among the questions the speakers will address:

  • How does policy impact the economy and the future of work?
  • Has the starring role of the service economy and “the side hustle” turned younger employees away from pursuing traditional work?
  • What will be the impact of diversity on the future of work?
  • Will college majors still be relevant in the future?
  • How will deep learning and machine learning transform the nature of work in the future?
  • How can design thinking be used to build purposeful and meaningful work today and in the future?

The co-sponsor of the symposium is OZY, a daily digital magazine that publishes original content from around the world. Carlos Watson, OZY’s co-founder and chief executive officer, and a graduate of Stanford Law School, will speak at the event. In addition, OZY staff will videotape the entire symposium and will write stories – to be published in coming weeks and months on its website – about key issues related to the topic.

Dey said he partnered with OZY because he wanted the symposium to be the start of a discussion that would continue in news stories, features and videos after the event ended.

“Media has a huge role to play in this discussion,” Dey said. “I learned about issues related to the future of work through the media – by reading reports and magazine articles, and listening to television interviews and podcasts. That’s how we’re going to raise awareness.”