From Yale’s recent endowment investing in crypto to NYU’s major in Blockchain Technology — the presence of crypto in higher education is increasingly becoming more common. As universities scramble to meet student (and workforce) demand for course offerings on blockchain, companies/organizations have found a unique opportunity to help fund blockchain initiatives on campuses through creating partnerships that help legitimize the industry.
Universities being the “gold standard” for institutionalizing knowledge are in a powerful position to help accelerate the overall awareness, acceptance, and adoption of blockchain technology. According to a recent study done by Coinbase, 42 of the 50 world’s top universities now offer at least one course on blockchain. Many of these top universities and others outside the top 50 find that these courses have overwhelming interest as students have jumped onto the “crypto craze” either for philosophical or financial reasons — or both. The interest has grown to the point where universities can no longer to afford to ignore the growth of the industry that will likely employ graduates for decades to come. Simply put, blockchain is not going away.
With universities both public and private alike in need of funding and the blockchain industry in need of solid partners, it should come as no surprise that organizations such as Ripple, Ethereum, EOS, etc. are contributing large gifts and grants to launch centers, programs, etc. on campuses, mainly in the United States. Similar to how pharmaceutical companies seekout scientists, and other industry-related researchers to validate and find use for new drugs — blockchain companies are seeking out a different type of “scientist” to ultimately do the same. Validation and acceptance still remains a key hurdle for many parts and organizations in the field.
As someone who works in major giving at a top public university, the collaboration between the new frontier of the workforce and higher education is thrilling. While there are still colleagues who doubt the future of blockchain, many at the university, and community as a whole, are seeing the value in pursuing endeavors that develop and increase an ecosystem around blockchain on campus. The enthusiasm of blockchain student groups has helped drive and evolve what a university should be focusing on as it relates to blockchain education and research opportunities. There is a real, demonstrated educational need beyond hosting hackathons, sending students to conferences and having speakers on campus. Currently at most universities, the course offerings and research on blockchain is housed in the business and engineering schools. However, as the industry expands, areas such as law, policy, economics, social work, sociology are also being included in funding discussions; moving the conversation beyond basic parts and commercialization. For example, a recent partnership between ConsenSys Social Impact and Maker Dao and the social innovation program optiMize at the University of Michigan is focused on empowering students to use blockchain for good — recognizing the transformational powers of the technology and how it can be utilized beyond current applications.
From a philanthropic perspective, gifts and sponsorship opportunities do even more than enable much needed programming and research opportunities on campus. Most involved in the blockchain space are younger alumni who are often left on the fringe of overall university alumni engagement strategy. While there are so many benefits from greater blockchain research both for faculty and those in the industry, these partnerships will ameliorate the sometimes imbalanced pace between higher education and the technology field. The future of the industry inevitably will be shaped by the current and future generations who will greatly benefit from the increased collaboration. Synchronizing industry and education initiatives ultimately provide better outcomes for students who desperately want to be involved as well desire to possess the skills needed to succeed in the blockchain industry.
And if nothing else, a cryptokitty is a great, dorm-friendly pet.