Fortune Favors Third Space

FORTUNE imageDean Wilson penned a short feature sharing the history and implications of Third Space thinking with readers. Click here to read the article. Fortune logo via

Dean Wilson Featured in C-Suite Quarterly

C-Suite Quarterly magazine has written about the Third Space under the headline, “Filling the $1 Trillion Talent Gap.” The story, part of the magazine’s Innovation Round-up, begins, “Ernest J. Wilson III, Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, is leading the charge on the school’s current research endeavor: Third Space Thinking. As Wilson puts it, Third Space thinkers are ‘adept, open-minded communicators,’ and research shows they are few and far between in the workplace.” Click here to see the full write-up.

Dean Wilson Presents Third Space in Paris

Dean in ParisIn December 2014 Dean Wilson traveled to Paris to deliver a presentation on the Third Space as part of the Forum Speakers Series conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Dean Wilson’s talk focused on Third Space competencies, future workforce needs, and talent and skills development in the 21st century. The presentation was delivered Wednesday, December 17th.

Third Space Forum 2014

The Third Space Forum was held November 7, 2014 at Wallis Annenberg Hall in the heart of USC’s University Park campus. Click here to go to the Third Space website, then move the cursor over the FORUM 2014 item on the Menu bar to access information and highlights of the event.

Third Space Update

Click this link Dean’s column_Annenberg Agenda_Summer 2014 to read the latest on USC Annenberg’s exploration of the Third Space from the Summer 2014 edition of the Annenberg Agenda.

A Blog is Born!

The C @ C_Blog is now active! Click on the C @ C_Blog item in the menu above to view the inaugural post from Dean Ernest J Wilson III.

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Third Space Video Goes Live Online

USC’s Third Space webpage is up and running, complete with an exciting video overview. The Third Space is defined as the unique set of attitudes, perspectives, experience and knowledge that have been determined to be crucial to being successful in the 21st century in practically any industry, and in the MCE (media, communication and entertainment) arena especially. USC Annenberg is the pioneer in recognizing, defining, mining and providing these capabilities in its students and to its constituents. Take a moment to see what we’re talking about by visiting the page or viewing the video directly.

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What Is It, and Who’s It For?

By Ernest J. Wilson III

For several years my Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism colleagues and I have used a common term to capture the many complicated communication-related changes occurring globally as societies transition from the industrial to the post industrial world. We call this, “Communication at the Center,” or “[email protected]

USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III, photographed in front of brand new Wallis Annenberg Hall, May 2014.  Photo: Brett Van Ort / USC Annenberg

USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III, photographed in front of brand new Wallis Annenberg Hall, May 2014.
Photo: Brett Van Ort / USC Annenberg

[email protected] captures the shifts in communications-related phenomena as they migrate, in fits and starts, from the relative periphery of our attention and actions toward the important center of what we do every day.

The [email protected] framework links together lots of disparate changes into a single perspective.  It enables people to recognize isolated individual changes as part of a larger whole. As dean of a School responsible for teaching students about their society-wide communication contexts, as well as the details of new technology and individual use patterns, my colleagues and I have found [email protected] a useful guide to create a more integrated curriculum. It also has come to inform our research agenda. And more and more it guides our growing engagements with external partners in companies and communities. Indeed, [email protected] is really the fruit of multiple conversations with top scholars and senior practitioners from around the world and across multiple sectors.

I spent several years working on this idea, and recognized it is composed of 3 distinct elements, all of which are changing in their own ways, but are also related to the larger process of transition from industrial to post industrial society. Those three elements are the transformations taking place at the individual level; at the organizational level; and at the most general, society –wide level. Or more academically, the micro, meso and macro levels.

So this [email protected] blog will be informed by my conversations with colleagues from around the world, as they describe from their perspectives the growing importance of communications in their own personal lives, inside their organizations and in society as a whole. This includes conversations with CEOs, senior government officials and leaders of non-profits.

All of us struggle to understand these shifts toward the center, and to use whatever resources we can muster to shape these flows in strategic ways that will benefit us, materially and ideally.  Strategically restructuring communication flows and assets is the name of the game.

As I write these blogs, I will draw on my personal and professional background. I’ve worked in government at the White House National Security Council, and in Congress. I’ve worked in private corporations and trade associations, for big think tanks and in universities. Now I run an institution charged with helping shape the future of the media/communications/entertainment environment of the future through our research. My own professional trajectory has sort of followed this, as I moved from topics such as energy policy, reform of state companies, national security, diversity and sustainable innovation, into global communication policies.

Most likely, over the coming weeks and months you will find me writing about critical issues at each of these three levels: individual, organizational, global. For example, the Annenberg School doing research on the specialized talents necessary for individuals and companies to operate in a [email protected] world. Our school’s core business is to educate the next generation of communication leaders, and to conduct world-class research on [email protected] and communicate it with our communities of practice. Some other topics I look forward to covering include:

–          Interviews with [email protected] leaders, and looks into [email protected] research

–          Introduction to the Third Space (

–          Diversity and Media

–          [email protected] in the Middle Kingdom: The Complex Spread of Communication in China

–          The unique ways that China, Africa and other parts of the world are desperately trying to shape the spread of communications to their centers


Welcome to [email protected] and stay tuned. I hope you find these musings interesting and provocative enough to move you to tell your friends and to contribute to the blog.


Dean Ernest J. Wilson III Speaks at the Taihu World Cultural Forum

Dr. Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, spoke at The Third Annual Conference of the Taihu World Cultural Forum held in Shanghai June 17 and 18. (See the write-up on Inside Annenberg.)  The Forum was attended by more than 500 prominent figures in politics, business, academia and media. The focus of the Forum is the facilitation of conversations about the importance of cultural soft power in promoting peace. Dean Wilson asked that delegates “reframe” the discussion of US-China relations in an effort to promote cultural understanding. The best way to accomplish this, he said, is by focusing on new people, new programs, and new platforms. Dean Wilson also outlined the findings of a recently released report on building trust between China and the U.S. The report was the result of a joint effort between the USC Annenberg School and the School of International Studies at Peking University. Click here to See Dean Wilson speak at the World Cultural Forum, starting at 8:45 in and ending at 15:25.

Dean Wilson Weighs in on Naming of New Head of NPR, Jarl Mohn

“Jarl Mohn is a shining example of the innovation and the digital media leadership that we live, work and teach here at USC Annenberg,” and exactly the kind of leader that NPR needs. See full articles on Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) and Annenberg News (ANN)