“Revolutionizing Higher Education”
Cathy Davidson, cofounding director of HASTAC, is Distinguished Professor of English and Founding Director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY (2018)
Cathy N. Davidson, a higher education leader and distinguished scholar of the history of technology, argues that colleges and universities are failing the entire generation of young people — but most higher education reform diagnoses the wrong problem and proposes the wrong solutions. In this talk, Davidson looks at the period from 1865–1925, when the nation’s universities created grades and departments, majors and minors in an attempt to prepare young people for a world transformed by the telegraph and the Model T. If innovators then could redesign college, we can rethink higher education for our own era. From the Ivy League to community colleges, she profiles innovative educators who are changing their classrooms and their curriculums. Her book The New Education ultimately shows how we can teach students not only to survive but to thrive amid the challenges of our age.
Cathy Davidson is Distinguished Professor of English and founding director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the R. F. DeVarney Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University, where she served as Duke’s (and the nation’s) first vice provost for interdisciplinary studies. Davidson is the co-founding director (2002–17, now co-director) of HASTAC (“Haystack”), Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory. She is on the board of directors of Mozilla and served on the National Council of the Humanities as an appointee of President Barack Obama (2011–17).
“The Institutional as Usual: Diversity, Utility and the University” (2017)
Sara Ahmed, scholar of feminist theory, queer theory, critical race theory and postcolonialism
In this lecture, Sara Ahmed discussed how understanding how and why diversity is “in use” as a word and concept allows us to explore how universities are shaped by patterns of use that often go unnoticed. She drew on her research into diversity work first discussed in her book On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012) as well as her current research on the “uses of use.”
Sara Ahmed is an independent feminist writer and scholar. She has previously held academic posts at Lancaster University and Goldsmiths. Her most recent books are Living a Feminist Life (2017), Willful Subjects (2014), On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012), The Promise of Happiness (2010) and Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others.
“Why Don’t Universities Support Racial Equality?” (2016)
Christopher Newfield, professor of literature and American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
A debate about such issues as affirmative action, university reparations and renaming units like the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton have convinced many people that American universities are centers of egalitarian thought and practice about race relations. But is this reputation deserved? This lecture surveyed the evidence that universities are now contributing to the resegregation of the United States, discussed why this is happening and suggested how universities could instead help fix racial disparity.
Christopher Newfield is professor of literature and American Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He brings an interdisciplinary background to the analysis of a range of topics in American studies, innovation theory, and “critical university studies,” a field which he helped to found. Chris’ books include Mapping Multiculturalism (edited with Avery Gordon), The Emerson Effect: Individualism and Submission in America (Chicago, 1996), Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880–1980 (Duke, 2003), and Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class (Harvard, 2008). His writing covers American political psychology, race relations, the future of solar energy, and the power of humanities-based investigation. He teaches courses such as Detective Fiction, Global California, Innovation Studies, Critical Theory, the Future of Higher Education, and English Majoring After College among others. He blogs on higher education funding and policy at Remaking the University, the Huffington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, and is completing a book called “Lowered Education: What to Do About Our Downsized Future.”
“Why Universities Should Be in Prisons” (2015)
Rebecca Ginsburg, associate professor, Departments of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership and in Landscape Architecture; co-founder and director, Education Justice Project, University of Illinois
Rebecca Ginsburg is director of the Education Justice Project (EJP), a college-in-prison program based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. EJP offers for-credit courses and other educational activities to men incarcerated in a medium-security state prison. In this lecture she described EJP, shared stories of its students, and made a case for other institutions of higher education working within prisons. Her position is that such engagement not only serves incarcerated individuals and the broader society, but also the university, its students, and faculty.
“The University and the Combinations of Heart and Mind” (2014)
Roderick A. Ferguson, professor of African American history and gender and women’s studies, University of Illinois, Chicago
Roderick A. Ferguson was educated at Howard University and the University of California, San Diego. He is faculty in the Departments of African American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the co-director of the Racialized Body research cluster at UIC. Prior to his appointment there, he was professor of race and critical theory in the Department of American Studies at the University of Minnesota, serving as chair of the department from 2009 to 2012. In the fall of 2013, he was the Old Dominion Visiting Faculty for the Council of the Humanities and the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. In 2004, he was Scholar in Residence for the “Queer Locations” Seminar at the University of California’s Humanities Research Institute in Irvine, California. From 2007 to 2010, he was associate editor of the American Studies Association’s flagship journal American Quarterly. In the year 2000, he was awarded the Modern Language Association’s Crompton-Noll Award for Best Essay in Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Studies in the Modern Languages/Literatures for his essay “The Parvenu Baldwin and the Other Side of Redemption: Modernity, Race, Sexuality, and the Cold War." He is the co-editor with Grace Hong of the University of Minnesota Press book series Difference Incorporated. Also with Hong, he is the co-editor of the anthology Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization (2011). In addition, he is the author of The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (2012), Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (2004), and numerous articles.
“The State of Conscience in University Life Today” (2013)
Ruth J. Simmons, Professor of French Comparative Literature and of Africana Studies, Brown University
Ruth J. Simmons was president of Brown University from 2001–12. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.
A professor of French before entering university administration, President Simmons currently holds an appointment as professor of comparative literature and of Africana studies at Brown. After completing her PhD in romance languages and literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.
“Liberal Arts: The Higgs Boson of Higher Education” (2012)
Walter E. Massey, educator, physicist, and business executive
The Center for the Humanities, in partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences and the Assembly Series, will hold the first annual James E. McLeod Lecture on Higher Education on Tuesday, October 2, at 4:00 p.m. in Graham Chapel. The speaker will be Walter E. Massey, president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This lecture series, in honor of the esteemed vice chancellor of students who died in 2011, will deal with the role of the liberal arts in higher education, a subject especially meaningful to Dean McLeod. Reception in the Formal Lounge of the Women’s Building will follow the lecture.
Walter E. Massey is an educator, physicist, and business executive. He has served as professor of physics and dean of the college at Brown University, as well as on the faculties of the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a former president of Morehouse College, Dean McLeod’s alma mater. A prominent physicist, Massey was director of the Argonne National Laboratory from 1979 to 1984, and the director of the National Science Foundation from 1991 to 1993, appointed by former president George H. W. Bush. He has been a strong advocate for quality science education for minority students. Massey has served as director and chair of the board of Bank of America and is currently on the board of McDonald’s. Massey earned his PhD in physics from Washington University in St. Louis.