Brett Schilke


Director of Impact

Areas of Expertise

Impact  •  Future of Learning

About Brett

Brett is the Director of Impact at Singularity University, leading global impact strategy and impact partnerships ranging from education to nuclear threat reduction. He also leads Singularity University’s K12 education initiatives and speaks regularly around the world on the future of learning, innovation for global impact, and building communities of action.

Prior to joining SU, Brett spent a decade in international development as the head of an education and civil society NGO working in rural Russia on projects in education, health care, social services, and chemical weapons deconstruction. He served as adjunct faculty in community development at a private university in Siberia and has published research on the evolution of human psychology through periods of social change.

Committed to helping everyday people understand how to craft better futures, Brett has designed immersive learning experiences for the United States Congress and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education, and currently leads the Future of Work Task Force for the G20 Engagement Group on Youth.

As co-founder & CEO of the educational development company IDEAco, Brett launched the City X Project, an innovation and problem solving curriculum for kids which is used in over 75 countries (and in space!). He is currently leading development of a future-focused course for high school students with GEMS Education, and serves as an advisor to multiple education startups and the University of Wisconsin SuccessWorks initiative.

Along the way, Brett has made second homes in the middle of Siberia and in the mountains of Transylvania. (Yes, the former gets cold. No, the latter does not have vampires.) He loves to feed people, tell stories, and gives far more high-fives than he probably should.

The Future of Learning

Technology is Not a Panacea

Find Your Billion New Zealand Highlight Reel

Speaking Topics

  • From Poverty to Prosperity

    How can exponential technologies be applied to alleviate the greatest challenges facing our planet? In this Global Grand Challenge deep dive, we will consider the ways in which technology can pave a path from poverty to prosperity, contrasting traditional development interventions with new models that leverage digitized industries and lead to long-term quality of life improvement and risk mitigation. Explore concrete ideas for how you can use technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, rapid manufacturing, and more to not just provide basic needs, but completely transform systemic challenges, unlock new markets, and put agency and influence in the hands of the world’s poor.

  • Future of Learning

    The world’s standard “industrial education” model was born centuries ago and is often under fire as the main source of problems in today’s system. But what if rather than replacing a system, we wildly imagined the ways we can “retool production” and leverage that system for progress? Drawing examples from experience working with dozens of education systems, governments, and NGOs around the world, Brett tells a story of a world that can embrace technology and social trends to prepare our next generation to be masters of a future we can’t yet imagine.

    Perspective on the future of learning that leverages tech to empower and excite educators.
    Concrete examples of successful innovation in education.
    Suggestions for how to rethink existing curriculum with a future-focused mindset.

  • Global Impact

    Our world today is experiencing the forefront of a growing movement to leverage business as a force for good. In this talk, Brett shares a vision for tackling humanity’s most pressing challenges, while considering the generational trends, market dynamics, and simple business sense that make uncommon collaboration and positive global impact major players for the bottom line.

  • The Exponential Generation

    This is sort of my version of an “Intro to Exponentials” that has a really strong impact bent. I have two versions of the talk, one for youth and one for general audience. For school & youth audiences, I usually follow it up with a short workshop, below.

    [Talk] The Exponential Generation (45 minutes)
    Become part of a story taking place at the intersection of techno-optimism and reality, and harness your potential to radically transform your communities and the world. Brett delves into the social, technological, and economic forces reshaping every facet of our world and tells fascinating stories of rapidly advancing technologies as tools for people to realize fulfilling, purpose-driven futures. Insights into massive generational shifts and provocations that wildly reimagine the future will guide you to understand and amplify your potential to positively impact billions of lives.

    Understanding of disruptive, exponential growth of technology and the future it creates.
    An entirely new way of looking at the world, free of the boundaries we typically imagine.
    Understanding of how social trends are propelling impact to new heights.

    [Workshop, for schools & youth] (1-2 hours) The talk is followed by an interactive discussion and salon that is designed for a smaller group of students – usually between 30 and 60. We pick a specific technology or social topic and dig into it with structured group discussion, intensely evocative questions, and a Q&A session designed to wildly expand minds with critical thought for the future.

  • Why The Most Successful Future Learners Will Need Inventive Resilience

    Discover How Future Learning Will be Driven by
    Reinvention, Experimentation, and Exploration
    With access to information now ubiquitous through the power of Internet, learning is no longer a function of one-time knowledge or skill acquisition. The challenge today is to constantly stay in touch with the evolving trends, and develop core skills to match the varying demands of each industry. Unfortunately, our education systems are not prepared to handle the paradigm shift that is being brought forth by the fourth industrial revolution.

    As we ask the vital questions about how to remain relevant, learn, and teach in this world, what if we wildly imagined the ways we can retool and leverage our existing education system for progress?

    Brett Schilke navigates through the different learning challenges we’ll face in a rapidly changing world, and talks about a future, where social and technological trends would merge with educational systems to match the need for dynamic, creative jobs.

    Brett has worked with dozens of education systems, governments, and NGOs around the world, and he’ll be drawing real-life examples to envision future learning models.

    In this talk, you will:
    – Acquire broad understanding of the structural shifts in the society, and how they affect teaching and learning patterns across the globe
    – Discover varied approaches to innovative learning, and explore the role of exponential technologies in bridging the inherent knowledge gaps
    – Learn how to adapt inventive resilience as the model for future readiness, and stay relevant in changing times
    – Be inspired to reframe learning challenges through discovery, experimentation, and exploration
    – Analyse long-term implications of the current social and technology trends on education, and get valuable insights on how to stay ahead of the curve

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