LEFT: Howard (lying down on the job in 1992) with Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? cast members. MIDDLE: In SUNY Geneseo classroom, before a speech. RIGHT: In Hong Kong, recording one of the first Kids on Earth videos.
HOWARD BLUMENTHAL is a Senior Scholar with The University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, and with The University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development. Previously, he was a senior executive with several large media companies, head of an innovative nonprofit, an award-winning television producer, a syndicated journalist, and an author.
Howard’s current area of interest is the intersection of human progress, future-mindedness, technology, media, and the future of learning. His current projects include Kids on Earth, featuring hundreds of interviews with children and teenagers around the world. Its goal is to foster a connected society where children and teenagers can make friends, study, and communicate with peers around the globe. He is also the host and co-executive producer of Reinventing School, an interview series about learning and education in the 2020s featuring adult professionals and students..
Previously, Howard created and produced the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning PBS children’s series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? He has developed and produced programs for Nickelodeon, MTV, Food Network, History Channel, and other networks. His documentary work includes The Boys of Summer, about the Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers, and On the Other Side of the Fence, winner of a Gold Medal from the New York International Film Festivals and a special United Nations Award for Public Service.
As a journalist, Howard wrote a popular weekly column for 100+ newspapers distributed by The New York Times Syndicate and United Features. He has written 25 books about media, creativity, U.S. history, popular culture, marketing, business, music, and time travel. He has been a guest on over 500 television and radio programs.
As an executive, he has served as a Senior Vice President for divisions of Hearst and Bertelsmann; CDNow (NASDAQ); and as CEO of Independence Public Media; Executive Director of the NJ Public Broadcasting Authority; and President of the NJN Foundation. Earlier, he was head of marketing for a division of Warner Communications leading the team that started MTV. He has also worked with HarperCollins, The Learning Company, Parker Brothers, LEGO, City Year, WGBH, Merriam-Webster, Lehigh Valley Telecommunications, General Electric, American Express, NHK (Japanese television), France 24, and several children’s software and game companies, and several international start-ups.
My role as a Senior Scholar at The University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, and Executive Director of the new 21st Century Learning Project, is straightforward. We look closely at learning from the perspective of 1.5 billion individual K-12 students— where they learn, how they learn, why they learn, what they learn, and how they prepare for complexity and change throughout this global century. Working across disciplines, in the academy and the community, largely with children, teenagers and their teachers, we are constructing a forward-thinking global framework for learning from 2025-2050..
My engagement with higher education with The University of Pennsylvania restarted in 2017. My first affiliation: The Annenberg School for Communication, which allowed me to shift focus from my long-time study of television and new media to work with and for children and teenagers. I am now a Senior Scholar at The Positive Psychology Center, also part of UPenn, where my interest has grown to connect ideas about identity, gender, family, community, school, learning, media, technology, thinking clearly, population patterns, economics, overcoming obstacles, and more.
I also serve, or have served, several academic groups that address learning and community including The Core Advisory Group for Civic Imagination Project at The University of Southern California (USC); UNESCO MILA Cities Innovation Group; and THE JENA DECLARATION as a member of the Advisory Board for UNESCO-Chair on Global Understanding for Sustainability, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany. In 2020, I was accepted for the Fulbright Specialist Roster, ready to travel and work with teachers and students outside the U.S. Previously, I was a member of the faculty at The New School for Social Research in New York City. In 2020, I taught a Master Class in Global Citizenship & Storytelling for the Global Studies program for Lehigh University.