from Renewing America

Morning Brief: Major Research Universities Join With Coursera

Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller speaks at TED Global in Edinburgh on June 26, 2012 (TEDConference/flickr).
Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller speaks at TED Global in Edinburgh on June 26, 2012 (TEDConference/flickr).

May 8, 2017, 8:00 am (EST)

Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller speaks at TED Global in Edinburgh on June 26, 2012 (TEDConference/flickr).
Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller speaks at TED Global in Edinburgh on June 26, 2012 (TEDConference/flickr).
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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Coursera, a year-old online learning company co-founded by two Stanford computer scientists, will announce today that twelve additional major research universities will join the project, including the California Institute of Technology, Duke University, Rice University, Johns Hopkins University, and others (NYT). Coursera will offer one hundred or more free massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the fall, and the company expects millions to register from around the globe. This program mirrors similar initiatives by Harvard and MIT, which recently launched the joint online learning program edX.

The recent expansion of free, online university education by several elite U.S. institutions was the subject of a recent Policy Innovation Spotlight by Renewing America contributor Steve J. Markovich, who examined these initiatives and argued that these endeavors hold potential to control costs for students while multiplying the impact of America’s universities.

How Taxes Affect Labor Markets

On his blog, leading economist Gary Becker discusses the impact an increase in marginal tax rates will likely have on labor markets. Past studies that looked at the behavior of entire economies found that higher marginal tax rates reduce hours worked, but studies of individual behavior found little change. Becker discusses new research that argues that individual studies have undervalued the value of job investments to young workers, who can increase lifetime earnings greatly by gaining good experience early. His blog partner, Federal Judge Richard Posner, discusses the likely revenue impact.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

Debt and Deficits

Click Here to Fix State Budgets

Republican governors recently dropped opposition to collecting state sales taxes from online retailers, and federal legislation is under development (WSJ). The new taxes could raise as much as $23 billion to buttress state budgets. Even Amazon is supportive, so long as its online rivals are included. One New Jersey assemblyman explained the collaborative mood: “What we saw here was a rapidly growing bipartisan coalition of business groups, labor, Republicans, and Democrats coming together because money and jobs were more important than political gamesmanship.”

Debt and deficits. Read more from experts on the challenges in reducing U.S. debt.


Building a Startup within a 120-Year Old Icon

General Electric may soon have a billion-dollar battery business (Bloomberg Businessweek). Throughout its history, GE has never been a significant player in the battery business, but all that changed in 2009 when executives realized that no battery producer made a product that fit the needs of many GE divisions. GE created a new battery design through an internal startup that built upon the technology other firms had been developing for decades. It is an interesting example of how a large company can use a startup mentality, the work of others, and the resources of an established firm to innovate.

CFR Senior Fellow and Renewing America Director Edward Alden writes that policies focused solely on ensuring that big innovations come from within the United States may be misguided because so much innovation is global, and the U.S. economy can benefit from innovations developed elsewhere.

New Yahoo CEO Looks to Revive Innovation

Marissa Mayer, Google veteran and Yahoo’s new CEO, wants to reinvigorate Yahoo as a technological innovator (FT). Over the years, Yahoo's reputation as a visionary technology firm has been eclipsed by other Silicon Valley denizens such as Google and Facebook. Buying innovation has not helped; acquired startups such as photo-sharing site Flickr have lost their edge and much of their talent under Yahoo’s leadership.

Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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