"We have prospered from an environment of foresight and good leadership at AACC in my 33 years here.”
Steve Steele has been a champion of forward thinking at the college over the last 3 decades. In addition to his role as a sociology professor at AACC, Steve was an integral member of the teams that started the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI) in 1978 and the Institute of the Future (IF@AACC) in 2003, at the college.
“We have always had good leaders since I’ve been here, particularly Dr. Smith,” said Steve. “She is an open-thinker. There are always opportunities for growth and that makes AACC a really dynamic place. For years I have wanted us to become part of the League for Innovation and I am really thrilled that we are finally, and I think that is where we belong. I think Dr. Smith and other college leaders made that possible.”
IF@AACC facilitates futures scanning and strategic planning; offers programs, projects, research, and consulting to serve the needs of internal and external clients within the region; and provides a speakers’ bureau and a credit course on the future. In fall of 2004, IF formed a unique partnership with the World Future Society, the world’s largest and oldest organization devoted to the future. While there are several universities and colleges who are partners or organizational members of the society, AACC is the only community college that is a partner.
“The Institute of the Future is growing daily, for example, our e-zine Futureportal is read in 4 countries and 28 states in the U.S., and that is just the first 179 people who have signed up,” said Steve. “We recognize the fact that people believe that they don’t know about the future, but in reality they have great future-thinking tools. While we can’t ever predict the future effectively, right now anyway, we certainly can more articulately think about it so we can improve our chances of future success. By having some sort of vision, we're pulled forward and this helps us understand what we are doing and where we are going right now.”
Steve started his college career at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University and his doctorate from Catholic University of America. He teaches full-time at AACC and part-time at Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland Baltimore County. Additionally, for about four years now, Steve has been teaching classes at Patuxent Institute, a maximum-security prison in Jessup.
“The challenge is to motivate [students] to get the best from themselves,” said Steve. “As I get older, I start thinking in terms of just who is responsible for the future, and every moment I believe that we are. Every time learners are in your hands, you have the ability to unleash creativity and energy. As I work daily, I realize the profound contract imposed between the people of this County and me. I never doubt that I have held up my side of the bargain with the people of the county, who have entrusted me their children, themselves, their resources, and their ideas. I feel really good about it.”