Cathy N. Davidson




Cathy N. Davidson, a distinguished scholar of the history of technology and recently appointed to the National Humanities Council by President Obama, is a leading innovator of new ideas and methods for learning and professional development—in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life.

Davidson holds two distinguished chairs at Duke University, the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, where she co-directs the Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge. She is cofounding director of the 11,000+ member international digital learning network HASTAC (“haystack”), Humanities, Arts, Technology, and Science Alliance and Collaboratory, whose motto is “Difference is our operating system,” and co-directs the annual HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions, which have awarded more than $10 million in grant funding to support 90 innovative projects operating in more than twenty countries. She is a frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, corporations, non-profits and other organizations, and writes for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, Times Higher Ed, and many other publications in the U.S. and abroad.

From 1998-2006, Davidson served as Duke’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. In that role, she helped develop over seventy collaborative cutting-edge programs, including the Program in Information Science + Information Studies and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience as well as the University Scholars Program (in partnership with and supported by Duke alumna and former trustee, Melinda French Gates). In an effort to design new telecommunications infrastructures to foster interactive learning, distance education, and the translation of specialized scholarship to a general audience, she helped launch Duke’s famous “iPod experiment,” in which incoming students in 2004 were given free iPods in exchange for designing an array of new learning applications for what, at the time, was billed as a “music listening device.” In this program, Duke students held the world’s first academic “podcasting” conference and beta-developed bi-directional broadcasting (what would become iTunes U) and video capacities. She has written about this experiment in the “Project Classroom Makeover” chapter of her influential Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century (Viking-Penguin, 2011). Now You See It was named a “top 10 science book” of the year by Publisher’s Weekly and has been the occasion for over eighty invited lectures in the U.S. and internationally, including in Canada, Australia, Denmark, the UK, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

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Jan 27th 2014

In this course we will learn about the features of higher education that were designed specifically to prepare workers and leaders for the Industrial Age, and we’ll strategize ways that, together, we can change learning--inside of school and out--for the world we live in now--and even to help improve our world.

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