USC Annenberg Opens Center for Third Space Thinking

The new center will focus on soft skills to improve individual and organizational performance.

The Center for Third Space Thinking, a new facility dedicated to providing businesses and nonprofits with soft skills needed to thrive in a digitally disrupted world, opened in February 2018 due to a $1.5 million launch grant provided by Annenberg Foundation. The center is housed in the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles.

The center, which was founded by former Annenberg School dean Ernest J. Wilson III, offers executive leadership training opportunities specifically designed for companies and their high performers, courses in soft skills and critical thinking development, and community engagement workshops for diverse and less fortunate communities.

“We are training the next generation of leaders and equipping them with the interactive skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace,” said Shellee Smith, the center’s executive director. “Our new problem-solving methodology is built on five core competencies — adaptability, cultural competency, empathy, intellectual curiosity and 360-degree thinking — that are in high demand, but under supplied.”

The center held its first two-day leadership development Third Space Boot Camp for high-potential executives at the USC campus in October 2017. Twenty-five executives attended from various organizations, including Google, IBM, Western Union, United Airlines, AECOM, Southern California Edison, Quest Diagnostics and the Annenberg Foundation.

“Through our boot camps and customized workshops, the Center for Third Space Thinking is helping high-potential leaders become more effective problem solvers, break down organizational barriers, unlock innovation and improve performance in the workplace,” Smith said.

Ashley St. John is managing editor of Chief Learning Officer. She can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.

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