Breakfast and Keynote: Cathy N. Davidson, “Educating Higher”

09 Aug 2016
9:00 am - 10:30 am
Hurley Convergence Center Digital Auditorium

Breakfast and Keynote: Cathy N. Davidson, “Educating Higher”

In this keynote address, noted educational innovator and historian and theorist of technology Cathy N. Davidson proposes ways that each and every person can begin reshaping higher education. Her talk begins by looking back at the origins of the modern university and then looks ahead to tomorrow. Literally tomorrow. (Or, heck, why not today?) In this session, Davidson will engage participants in a number of learning exercises that can be used to turn any classroom in any field into an active, agile, student-centered learning experience. And the good news? These same methods also work for faculty meetings, community organizing, and any occasion where the objective is for everyone to learn, for everyone to contribute, everyone to participate productively in change. As Davidson notes: “You cannot counter structural inequality with good will. You need to design ways to structure equality.”

Cathy N. Davidson, a distinguished scholar of the history of technology, is a leading innovator of new ideas and methods for learning and professional development–in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life.  She is a frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, corporations, non-profits, and other organizations, and writes for the Harvard Business ReviewWall Street Journal, Fast Company, the Chronicle of Higher EducationWashington PostTimes Higher Ed, as well as many other academic and trade publications in the U.S. and abroad.  In 2011, President Obama appointed her to the National Council on the Humanities.

Davidson moved to New York City in July 2014 where she is a Distinguished Professor in the PhD Program in English at the Graduate Center, The City University of New York, and Director of the Futures Initiative, a new program dedicated to envisioning the future of higher education.  Davidson’s main contributions have been in the areas of history and theory of technology, including history of the book, history of industrialism and postindustrialism, and the impact of new technologies on culture, cognition, and learning. She has published more than twenty books including Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America (Oxford, 1986; Expanded Edition 2004); Closing:  The Life and Death of an American Factory, with documentary photographer Bill Bamberger (Norton, 1998); The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, with David Theo Goldberg (MIT Press, 2010); and, most recently, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking, 2011).

Previously, Davidson had a long career as Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University.  From 1998-2006, sheserved as Duke’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies, working with faculty and students to design some seventy new cross-campus programs and technologies, including the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Program in Information Science and Information Studies, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies, and many more. In 2002, she cofounded the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (, now a 13,000+ network committed to “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.”   She is co-director of the Digital Media and Learning Competitions, administered by HASTAC and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which have awarded more than $10 million in grant funding to support ninety innovative projects operating in more than twenty countries. Davidson is the first educator to serve on the Board of Directors of Mozilla. She received the Educator of the Year Award (with HASTAC cofounder Goldberg) from the World Technology Network in 2012.  She is currently working on a book on innovation, equity, and the future of higher education for Basic Books.