Exploring the Future of Work

During the Fall 2021 semester, I had the pleasure of teaching an honors course with Prof. Daniel Sui (Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at Virginia Tech) that focused on the future of work. The course was designed to expose students to the wide variety of research that is undertaken at Virginia Tech on this topic (see the list below). The news article below provides some insight into the course and what the students thought of the experience. We are planning to offer a version of the course again during the Fall 2022 semester.

The list below provides an overview of the subjects covered by our guest speakers during the semester:

New Paper in EIST

The Crisis in Employment and Consumer Demand: Reconciliation with Environmental Sustainability

Nicholas A. Ashford, Ralph P. Hall, and Robert H. Ashford

Abstract: This paper argues that a sustainable industrial system depends not only on good environmental and public health outcomes, but also on adequate employment and earning capacity in a well-functioning and equitable economic system. These concerns are likely to dominate future national political debates, requiring responses that increase the earning capacity of individuals through changes in the nature of work and employment, and in the ownership of productive capital. Making the economy greener, while certainly necessary for long-term economic and societal survival, does not necessarily mean more and better paying jobs on a large enough scale to make serious progress to reducing unemployment and underemployment. At present, national and global reforms are focused on improving the financial system, which is not synonymous with reforming the economic system or improving the economic status of individual citizens. This paper discusses specific policies and initiatives that need to be considered to ensure sustainable employment and livelihoods.


  • Policies and initiatives to advance sustainable employment/livelihoods are discussed.
  • Sustainable industrial systems require adequate employment and earning capacity.
  • Green growth does not necessarily mean more and better-paying jobs.
  • Both labor productivity and GDP/GNP are flawed measures of economic progress.
  • Productivity and productiveness are not the same.