The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

01/24 What is the Future of Higher Education, and How Can We Transform It?


What is the future of higher education?  This is the central question posed by educator, author, innovator   Cathy Davidson, Professor of English at Duke University and co-founder of HASTAC, in an open, online course that launches at the end of January.  Davidson has designed an intriguing course on “The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education: Or, How We Can Unlearn Our Old Patterns and Relearn for a Happier, More Productive, Ethical, and Socially-Engaged Future.”


The six-week long course, hosted through Coursera (sign up is free), will use a variety of methods (lecture, discussion and interview) to deliver the course digitally to participants all over the world.  The course is just one element in a larger HASTAC initiative #FutureEd.

From the beginning, JustPublics@365 has been deeply engaged in questions of transformation in higher education, so we are partnering with Davidson and HASTAC to bring discussions of the Davidson’s course and of #FutureEd. to the CUNY Graduate Center.

We will meet on Fridays, January 24-March 14 from  12pm-1pm in the Dining Commons (on 8th Floor).  Everyone is welcome (if you don’t work at the GC, simply come to the building at 365 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of 34th St., show your photo ID, and proceed to the elevators to the 8th floor).  Discussions will be led by: Lisa Brundage (Director, CUNY Advance), Jessie Daniels (Professor), and Polly Thistlethwaite (Chief Librarian).

The recommended readings for the course are Professor Davidson’s book Now You See It: How Technology and the Brain Science of Attention Will Change the Way We Live, Work and Learn (Viking2011), which will be made available free online for the first 50,000 students registered for this course, and two readings available as free downloads,  Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies: A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning, and the Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age. The learning objectives are for the course are as follows:

  • Understand how and why we inherited the Industrial Age educational systems.
  • Think deeply about the requirements of the world we live in now.
  • Discover new ideas, methods, competencies, and subject matter.
  • Share our pathways to successful innovation with others around the world. Together, we can change schools, classrooms, institutions, learning–and maybe ourselves!

Our lunchtime meetings in the Dining Commons will serve as a local and informal “discussion section” of the course and of the future of higher education.  We’re interested in thinking about the future of higher education, as well as about how we might shape that future of higher education in ways that promote social justice.

If you are reading this post, then you have the basic skills necessary to participate in the online course, and you can sign up for free at Coursera.  If you eat lunch on Fridays, and are in the vicinity of the GC, then please join us!