At the University of Delaware, educators are no longer thinking about how they want to teach students — instead, they’re focusing on how students want to learn, and on creating the multidisciplinary, multi-generational learning communities needed to solve the complicated issues facing the world today.

“I remember as a college student back in the 1970s, I would dutifully go to a class with 300 of my fellow classmates, sit in the back row and pay attention,” UD president Patrick Harker says. “That doesn’t happen anymore. Why? Because you can watch [the lectures] online. So there had better be a compelling reason for me as a student to show up, where I can interact rather than just listen. We like talking to students. They want to learn by doing.”

And that type of hands-on education is what companies, nonprofits and governments are looking for today when they seek to hire new college graduates: “They want to hire students that they know can roll up their sleeves and get things done,” Harker notes. “The best way to prove that you can do that is to actually do it.”

In this Knowledge at Wharton video produced with the University of Delaware, Harker and UD faculty explain how they are designing curricula, research efforts, and even a new laboratory and classroom building to promote a student-centered approach to learning — and how those efforts are paying off.