Tom Brokaw, legendary journalist with NBC News, and Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, are my guests on this week’s episode of the Pickens Podcast. They have teamed up to build a world-class Public Service Academy to create a next-gen class of young Americans who want to change the arc of civilian service to America.

The idea is to produce civilian leadership in the same way we produce military leaders from West Point, Annapolis, and the other military service academies.

In the same way that attendance at a military academy is fully funded, students at the civilian academy are granted full scholarships – all the costs of attending. According to President Crow, that amounts to $35,000 for every out-of-state student per year. And in the same way, the students agree to serve two years in public service.

Tom Brokaw added that less than one percent of the population is in the active military and “sent into harm’s way.” He said that was undemocratic and the leadership institute will spread the concept of public service to a far broader segment of the population. That will allow civilians to make “some sacrifices” on behalf of the nation without having to join the military.

At ASU, the students train side-by-side with ROTC members to cross-pollinate between the civilians and military.

When the system is fully up and running, graduates of public service academies can add a dimension to the work that the military does with local populations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the subject of college education generally, President Crow said that 50% of young people who start college never finish. Half of those who have received Pell Grants (“a half-trillion dollars”) leave school with no degree and no certificate of any kind. This program, if adopted across the nation, can add thousands per year to the rolls of young people whose college career ended with success instead of failure.

Tune in for this important discussion about the future of higher education and the future of public service. Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes.