• Third Space Youth Institute

    June 7 - 18, 2021

    The 2021 Third Space Youth Institute will give migrant students a jump on success. This free, one-week residential program in partnership with Riverside and Los Angeles counties introduces high schoolers to critical soft skills, college readiness, career development,  public speaking and personal branding.

  • Our Response to COVID-19

    Applying Third Space Thinking to the COVID-19 Crisis

    The global outbreak and rapid diffusion of COVID-19 is an example of the unexpected, and indeed unlikely “Black Swan’ condition that, when it does happen, requires fast and comprehensive adaptability informed by emotional empathy for people, and cognitive knowledge of the values of different societies.

  • The Center for Third Space Thinking

    We put the hard edge on soft skills.

    Our Mission: To empower aspiring leaders with the essential hard-edged soft skills required to make more intelligent decisions in today’s complex world.

  • Annenberg Media Institute for Youth & Educators

    February 19-21, 2020

    USC Center for Third Space Thinking will welcome students and teachers from the Merced Union High School District to a learning program of digital storytelling, video production, and soft skills development.

  • Soft Skills Boot Camp

    A one-day, immersive experience to help you master the critical soft skills needed in today’s competitive workplace and take your career to the next level.

Third Space Thinking

A communications-driven methodology to frame and solve problems. It’s a fresh, distinctive way of thinking that helps unlock innovation, drive collaboration, develop talent and enhance organizational performance rooted in five key competencies required for success in today’s ever-changing world.

Our Programs

Leadership Development

We offer two primary executive leadership training opportunities specifically designed for companies and their high-performers.


We are equipping students with the essential soft skills and critical thinking required for success in today’s digitally disrupted world.

Community Engagement

We are committed to sharing our knowledge with diverse and less fortunate communities who deserve the benefit from soft skill development.

Our Events

January 21, 2021

UC Alumni Career Network: Handling difficult conversations at work

This webinar will feature a panel of UC alumni providing guidance on addressing difficult conversations so that all voices are valued. No matter where you sit within your organization, from managerial roles to entry-level staff, our panelists will offer advice on how to handle challenging topics, acknowledge cultural differences in communication styles, and identify helpful techniques to maximize your workplace communications.  We invite you to join us for this important discussion.

Moderated by:

Jaime Carias (‘08, UCSB) | Author, Civic Engagement & Fellow, USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism


Annalyn Cruz (‘00, UCSB) | Senior Manager of Leadership & Management Development, Electronic Arts (EA)

Sunny Lee (‘97, UCI) | Assistant Vice Chancellor & Dean of Students, UC Berkeley

Anthony Martore (‘16, UCLA) | Business Diversity & Inclusion Manager, NIKE, Inc.

Time: 12-1 P.M.

November 5-6, 2020

Officer Women Leadership Symposium 2020 

The 2020 OWLS will be held virtually 5-6 November 2020. Military women leaders from around the world attend annually. The OWLS provides military women the opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues and to grow professionally and personally through keynote messages, workshops, and panel discussions. The distinguished speakers are respected leaders from the public and private sectors who offer their support, personal advice, and motivation to attendees.

Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking Executive Director, Shellee Smith, will be a keynote speaker leading an interactive workshop on developing essential leadership skills that are critical for success in today’s world.

October 15-16, 2020

Annenberg High School Day

Annenberg High School Day (AHSD) is a bi-annual program which will take place this Fall virtually on Zoom over two days. We will bring together local high school youth from throughout Southern California. Youth will receive hands-on immersive training in journalism, communication, media, and public relations. They also learn about USC Annenberg’s undergraduate programs and services.

Dr. Ernest Wilson will be one of the guest speakers and lead a session on Third Space Thinking and how to use soft skills to solve problems.

July 29, 2020

USC NROTC Teams up with third space for a Soft Skills Workshop

This past month, thirty-nine NROTC students from USC participated in a three-hour webinar led by the Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking where they were introduced to the ACE-IT model for problem-solving and leadership. Through personalized lectures, discussions, and activities led by our team of experts, the students learned how the ACE-IT model could be applied to challenges in their own lives. The students, many of whom are studying hard skills such as engineering, mathematics, and business administration, gained valuable insights into the soft skills or power skills that can help them in their academic journeys and future careers.

February 29, 2020

Dr. Ernest J. Wilson III at the Freedom's Congress Panel on Art Stories on Migration

Dr. Wilson will offer a provocation: "Third Space Thinking: A Perspective on Migration" at the Freedom's Congress Panel on Art Stories on Migration at the MOCA Warehouse, Los Angeles. Art Stories on Migration is an exploration of the migration of women as the totality of many stories through the arts. Click here for more information about the event.

January 24 - March 17, 2020

USC Hybrid High: Developing Academic and Career Success through Third Space Thinking

Third Space instructors will teach six sessions on soft skill development at the USC Hybrid High School. The class will provide students with a communication-driven analytic framework, along with the knowledge that will help them identify and take advantage of opportunities in today’s digital, distributed media-rich society.

March 5, 2020


Shellee Smith, Executive Director, USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking and Executive Education, will moderate a panel discussion on how to actively cultivate self-awareness, leadership, and resiliency to support your personal and professional journey. USC President Carol L. Folt will give welcome remarks at the event.

Time: 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Location: Tutor Campus Center Ballroom

March 26, 2020

Leveraging Soft Skills for 21st Century Health Care Challenges

Harness the power of soft skills to deliver better patient care through a highly engaging and interactive leadership development program offered by USC Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking.

Time: 1:30-3:30 pm
Location: Council Rooms at Verdugo Hills Hospital

What Others Are Saying

  • I learned to use Third Space Thinking to present ideas and make change.

    Joel Martinez – Baldwin Park High School

  • Clearly my two team members thoroughly enjoyed the Third Space Boot Camp. They enjoyed it so much that they suggested we invite the Dean to join us at an upcoming offsite for a Third Space experience of some kind.

    Bill Chandler, Former Chief Communications Officer - Western Union

  • In the last 4 days, with the Third Space Youth Institute, I have learned to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and develop my presentation skills.

    Alejandro Palomares – Desert Mirage High School

  • Third Space Thinking challenged us to think outside the box about the issues impacting our organization and helped create a framework and common language around which to structure our strategic planning process.

    Reesa McCoy Staten, Senior VP - Robert Half

  • I can use the ACE-IT method to tackle any situation.

    Alexis Godinez – Antelope Valley High School

  • Wilson’s remarks fittingly demonstrated both the need for and lack of certain ‘attitudes, perspectives, experiences and knowledge’ that the Third Space project aims to identify and instill in future talent.

    World Bank

  • I love the fact that the students are empowered to engage in communication and talk about things that are affecting their communities. I like that they are empowered to be more confident and that they are given the ability to use communication as a tool. I have been very impressed with the growth I have seen in the students.

    Myra Sanchez ,Director of the Migrant Education Program for Region 7 – Riverside County Office of Education

  • People who can “code switch” between their hard and soft sides can integrate the two to yield both power and subtlety, turning third space talents into third space thinking.


  • Taken together, they create a kind of “Third Space” that differs sharply from the other two perspectives that have long dominated business thinking: the engineering and traditional MBA perspectives.

    Harvard Business Review

  • The Third Space describes new skill sets like collaboration, empathy, intellectual curiosity, adaptability, and one I really agree with is what Annenberg calls 360-thinking. All of these things define to be new requirements of our professionals.

    Jon Iwata, Former Senior Vice President Marketing and Communications, IBM



Are you a Third Space thinker?

Stay up to date with the latest ideas and events of Third Space by signing up to our mailing list.