Carolina Among Leaders in Forum on Innovation, Economy

When some of the nation’s brightest minds come together to talk about the future of the American economy, Carolina will be in the spotlight. UNC — represented by both Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 and students — is one of two universities to be featured in a digital town hall discussion Wednesday, Feb. 9, from 8 a.m. to noon in Washington, D.C.

The conversation, “Finding Work, Finding Our Way: Building the Economy & Jobs of the Future,” will happen in the nation’s capital, but anyone can join in. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends can ask the experts questions online.  Questions can be submitted in advance and during the live discussion. The conversation has started on Twitter. Look for #USFutureEconomy. The town hall discussion also will stream live  at The Atlantic‘s website.

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 Thorp discussed with New York Times columnist David Brooks last month.

Wednesday’s town hall discussion includes a wide range of experts to address job creation, American competitiveness and more. Confirmed participants include 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 of 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 will serve on a panel highlighting rising entrepreneurship in the U.S. He co-authored Engines of Innovation –The Entrepreneurial University in the 21st Century, with Buck Goldstein ’70, 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” is sponsored by Microsoft and hosted by The Atlantic magazine. PBS NewsHour Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff will host the discussion. While the live discussion only takes place for a few hours, the actual conversation will continue 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

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