Relationships between school, work, and the life course are in flux. Twentieth-century models of human-capital development imagined that people would receive virtually all formal education and training in the first twenty years of their lives; spend the next thirty in a full-time career (whether paid or unpaid); then move into retirement. Such models are no longer tenable — if indeed they ever were. Today people in advanced industrial societies can expect to change careers at multiple points in their adult lives; receive training for new habits and skills throughout adulthood; and even live hundred-year lives.

Pathways researchers are applying computational techniques and theoretical tools developed to study academic progress to very large puzzles about how to organize relationships between education and work in the twenty-first century. How want to better understand how educators and employers can develop new ways of doing business that are efficient, enjoyable and humane for people at different life stages and in varying socio-economic situations. We also contribute to policy debates about how government can support and reward business practices that reward ambition, talent and demonstrated accomplishment rather than age or prior educational advantage.


an applied science to support working learners

Blending the worlds of school and work

Working learners simultaneously pursue paid employment and postsecondary education. They are the majority of Americans in college, yet a full understanding of their assets and needs has been limited by the tendency for educators, employers, and researchers alike to presume that work and school are separate worlds.

This project is part of a national effort to correct this presumption and build tractable knowledge to improve opportunities for working learners.


  • Mitchell Stevens
education and work across the life course

universities and the future of work

US research universities are vital engines of scientific knowledge and inter-institutional relationships that can help the nation anticipate — and shape — the future of work


  • Mitchell Stevens
  • John Mitchell
education and work across the life course


NSF report: An applied science to support working learners

Concise recommendations from a national peer review


Mitchell L. Stevens, Galeana Drew Alston, Marie Cini, Sean Gallagher, Ilana Horwitz, Cathrael Kazin, Pamela Clouser McCann, Zach Pardos, Elizabeth A. Roumell, Hadass Sheffer, Holly Zanville, Richard Settersten

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Reimagining education for a new map of life

How should we change education to better serve longer lives?

Stanford Center on Longevity, 2021

Ilana M. Horwitz & Mitchell L. Stevens

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Building tomorrow’s workforce today: Twin proposals for the future of learning, opportunity and work

A federal policy proposal to assist adult learners in the wake of the pandemic

Hamilton Project / Brookings, 2020

Richard Arum & Mitchell L. Stevens

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