What do elite universities like Berkeley, MIT, Cornell, Stanford, Princeton, and Harvard all have in common? Besides the obvious—they are among the finest academic institutions in the world—these schools have also embraced blockchain and/or cryptocurrency in their curriculum. While the extent of the integration varies and some of these schools have made the classes part of a computer science curriculum, others have also included it in finance, economics, law and humanities. The exciting aspect for us at the forefront of blockchain technology is that some of the top universities in the world are not only acknowledging but are welcoming the burgeoning technology with open arms and are inviting young and ambitious minds to think about the limits of blockchains and push to new ones.
Top schools are sometimes the mightiest gatekeepers when a new course of study tries to push itself into the academic world (a colleague recounts that his alma mater caused a bit of a stir for simply daring to create a Computer Science major a few years ago). Speaking to MarketWatch, New York University Professor David Yermack described a "rolling of eyes" and a belief that the course would never get off the ground when it started in 2014 as part of their FinTech MBA program. So, why would such schools take a chance on blockchain as a course of study?
Not only do schools feel the need to dispel some of the myths about blockchains and cryptocurrency (such as "it's only used on the black market"), but they want to show students how the technology is being used now and how it may be used in the future. Yermack says, "The finance industry itself is migrating towards incorporating [blockchain] technology into everybody's applications. The nature of jobs is changing because of this technology... students identify job opportunities and learn to expect great change in the industries they may be looking for jobs in."
Blockchains are constantly growing, improving and developing, which is great for the industry itself, but not so great for the professors. Yermack quipped, "We have to rewrite the syllabus every semester; it's a fast-moving field. Issues that were hot six months ago sometimes get overtaken by new things that organically bubble-up from the bottom."
The emphasis of coursework for many (if not most) of these schools has evolved over time from the rather narrow confines of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency to the much broader realms of blockchain: what it was in the past, where it is now, and where it may go in the future.
So, we've seen why schools are investing in blockchain education programs; why should students be interested in studying blockchain? For starters, blockchain technology is aimed at improving global processes such as business, finance, and the creation of smart contracts. It's due to this fact that entrepreneurs, governments, and the general population utilize blockchain technology in everyday business. Being prepared for blockchain will increase the value of today's student in tomorrow's job market. Innovative blockchain curricula give students the opportunity to become better equipped for the future and to dream up the next ambitious link in an already impressive blockchain