I gave this a great deal of thought and decided that the real issue isn't so much what is taught (though I do have some thoughts here) as it is attracting and retaining the right type of individuals to our programs in the first place. The culture of our graduate programs is not conducive to attracting the makers, solvers, and creatives that are the life-blood of the new economy.
Makers - the DIY engineering crowd (DIY, maker, hacker movement recognized by the WSJ - video). A term popularized (if not coined) by Cory Doctorow in his book, Makers.
Creatives - Their primary job function is to be creative and innovative. “Along with problem solving, their work may entail problem finding”. They are the classic knowledge workers and include those working in healthcare, business and finance, the legal sector, and education. They “draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems” using higher degrees of education to do so. (The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida.)
Solvers - prize their independence as much as their intelligence and ingenuity. They have a unique combination of creativity, knowledge, work experience and life skills that allow them to see things a little differently than other people.
How do you change the culture of the academy to appeal to these highly independent and innovative people? I most definitely think there are things that higher education has to offer creatives, et al. I could make a long list, but to do so would be to focus on the wrong problem. Can higher education make the necessary transition to appeal to freerange learners?