Cathy Davidson on The New Education, January 10 at 4:30pm

Come hear Professor Cathy Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Founding Director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Wednesday, January 10th, 4:30pm, Dana Auditorium

In The New Education:  How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux, Professor Cathy N. Davidson argues that the American university is stuck in the past—and shows how we can revolutionize it to prepare students for our age of constant change. Our current system of higher education dates to the period from 1865 to 1925, when the nation’s new universities created grades and departments, majors and minors, graduate and professional schools in an attempt to prepare young people for a world transformed by the telegraph and the Model T. This approach to education worked for most of the 20th century, says Davidson, but is unsuited to the rapidly changing “gig economy.” From the Ivy League to community colleges, Davidson introduces us to innovators who are remaking college for our own time, by emphasizing student-centered learning that values creativity, dexterity, innovation, and social change. In this talk she shows how we can revolutionize our universities to help students be leaders of change, not simply subject to it.

Cathy N. Davidson, educational innovator and a distinguished scholar of the history of technology, is an outspoken proponent of active ways of learning that help students to understand and navigate the radically changed global world in which we now all live, work, and learn. The 2016 recipient of the Ernest J. Boyer Award for Significant Contributions to Higher Education, she champions new ideas and methods for learning and professional development–in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life.

Davidson was appointed to the National Council on the Humanities by President Obama (2011-2017) and serves on the Board of Directors of Mozilla. A frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, non-profits, corporations, and other organizations, Davidson writes for the Harvard Business ReviewWall Street JournalFast CompanyThe Chronicle of Higher EducationThe Washington PostTimes Higher Ed, as well as many other academic and trade publications in the U.S. and abroad. She has published some twenty books on technology, the history of the book, literature, education, and cognitive neuroscience, including Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in AmericaClosing: The Life and Death of an American Factory, with documentary photographer Bill Bamberger; The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, with David Theo Goldberg; and Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.

Her most recent book, The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux, was published in September of 2017 by Basic Books. The title recalls Harvard President Charles Eliot’s 1869 manifesto which laid the groundwork for reshaping the Puritan college into the modern university, designed to train and credential America’s new professional-managerial class. Instead, Davidson argues, we need a “new education” to transform the university we have inherited for the one we need now. Rather than resisting new technologies, she places them in the context of past technological changes and helps us to master them in order that they do not master us.  “I would not now be a good analyst of the Internet as cultural, political, and technological force,” Davidson has said, “if I had not been trained as a historian of the book as a cultural, political, and technological force.”

Sponsored by the Office of the President, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research, the Library, and the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative

“The Shape of Data: A Research and Teaching Agenda for Digital Humanities”​ with Julia Flanders on April 28th

April 28th, 2016
4:30-6:00 P.M.
Hillcrest 103

The shaping of our data shapes modern digital humanities scholarship. This lecture will explore this proposition in detail, looking at the ways in which tools, working practices, research questions, and disciplinary identity intersect with questions of data modeling. As the field matures, we possess increasingly sophisticated models for expressing time, space, cultural formations, language structures, visual forms. What level of knowledge and control over models do we need to engage productively and responsibly as scholars in the digital age? What research and pedagogical agendas emerge at this stage in the development of the field?

Profile photo of Julia FlandersJulia Flanders is a professor of the practice in English and the director of the Digital Scholarship Group in the Northeastern University Library. She also directs the Women Writers Project and serves as editor in chief of Digital Humanities Quarterly, an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal of digital humanities.


“Digital is not better –Just Different”

Axinn 219

The last twenty years have seen the rise of considerable amounts of “digital scholarship” in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Paralleling this is a far more fundamental change in the cognitive skills and experience that undergraduates bring to college. In this talk I review the causes, impact, and future of these changes. Careful theoretical analysis reveals that there are both strengths and weaknesses to the new forms of scholarship, and that most of the claimed strengths are illusory, at least at the advanced research level. Computational techniques permit a few tasks never before possible, but for the most part produce indecisive, unstable answers to traditional research questions. On the pedagogical side, the digital approach to knowing – which engages students from before their arrival in kindergarten – has reshaped the undergraduate mind in ways that require a complete rethinking of college pedagogy: It is not so much that we must teach in new ways but that we must teach the skills which undergraduates no longer can be assumed to have, given of their relatively minimal exposure to complex discursive argument. Our task is worsened by the intrusion of social media into the social world of the classroom itself. It is clear that nothing short of a complete restructuring of undergraduate pedagogy is necessary.

This event sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative.

Andrew Abbott is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology and the College at the University of Chicago. Known for his ecological theories of occupations, Abbott also pioneered algorithmic analysis of social sequence data. He has written on the foundations of social science methodology and on the evolution of the social sciences and the academic system. He is the author of seven books and eighty articles and chapters. 



DLA Winter Speaker Dan Cohen on Feb. 19

“How the Digital Public Library of America is Changing Historical Research”

Friday, February 19th, 3:30 P.M., Hillcrest 103

In this public lecture Dan Cohen will discuss how new large-scale digital collections such as the Digital Public Library of America bring together millions of items from libraries, archives, and museums, and can form the basis for new kinds of research. Understanding how these collections are assembled, and how their data is structured and made available, is essential for envisioning such new uses and the scholarship that might now be possible.

Teaching with Digital Public History

Friday, February 19th, 12:30 P.M., CTLR Lounge

In this informal conversation, Dan Cohen, founding Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of American (DPLA) and former Professor of History at George Mason University, will share his experiences with incorporating public digital history into classrooms across the U.S. and lead a discussion around the opportunities and challenges of using digital objects in the classroom. There are no required readings for this session, but you may find this brief introduction to the DPLA useful. Lunch will be served, so please RSVP below so we can make sure there is enough food.

dan_cohen_bio_page_photo_300pxDan Cohen is the founding Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America. Until 2013 Dan was a Professor of History in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and the Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. He is the co-author of Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), author of Equations from God: Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), and co-editor of Hacking the Academy (University of Michigan Press, 2012). 

Current Sign-up Sheets

Title Date Open Spots  
Digital History as Team Sport: Applying Design Thinking to the Study of the Past N/A 0

Alicia Peaker to Give Carol Rifelj Lecture 2/24

February 24th, 2016
4:30-6:00 P.M.
Hillcrest 103

Photograph of moss
Photograph from Unsplash, released under Creative Commons Zero licensing.

DLA Postdoc Alicia Peaker will be sharing her digital work in progress as part of the Carol Rifelj lecture series on February 24th at 4:30 P.M., in Hillcrest 103. Her talk, “Digital Readings and ‘Ferny, Mossy Discoveries’: Visualizing the Natural Worlds of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Mary Webb’s Gone to Earth,” emerges at the intersections of environmental humanities, digital humanities, and ecocriticism, and considers alternative ways of engaging the fictional natural worlds of novels through digital forms.

How might the ecosystems and biospheres of novels be represented digitally? Can we develop useful digital models for contextualizing human characters within the fictional natural worlds they inhabit? And what impacts might such models have on the ways we read and understand literatures of the environment? Beginning with Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) and Mary Webb’s Gone To Earth (1917), this project uses digital humanities methods to situate humans and nonhuman others within the ecosystems of the novels they inhabit.

“Head-and-Shoulder Hunting in the Americas: Exploring Lobotomy’s Visual Culture”

a public lecture by Miriam Posner

April 15th, 2015, 4:30 P.M – 6:00 P.M.
103 Hillcrest

Drawing of hand preforming lobotomy

Walter Freeman, the world’s foremost proponent and practitioner of lobotomy, was also an obsessive photographer. He almost invariably took photos of his patients before and after surgery, often tracking them down years after the operation to capture their images. These cross-country trips to photograph patients, which Freeman called head-and-shoulder hunting expeditions, consumed the physician during the last years of his career.

What do we do with an archive like this? Its contents can tell us volumes about the medical epistemology that made lobotomy thinkable. But how can we avoid replicating Freeman’s own rhetorical moves, in which the photographs were mobilized as evidence during scientific presentations?

During this talk, Posner will describe the visual rhetoric that defined the scientific moment from which lobotomy emerged, and demonstrate some digital methods for placing them in context. Against the background of this history, Posner asks, what is the contemporary digital scholar’s responsibility for working with, writing about, and displaying images of human beings in distress?

Miriam Posner is Coordinator and Core Faculty Member of the Digital Humanities program at the University of California, Los Angeles.