The Futures of Higher Education Festival

We are pleased to announce a call for panels, events, workshops, or other creative and innovative forums for THE FUTURES OF HIGHER EDUCATION FESTIVAL.  Students: please see below for a special invitation to apply for a limited number of scholarships to help you participate.

This festival both celebrates our return to campus and serves as an invitation to reflect on what we learned about higher education during the pandemic, as well as what lessons we might take into the future in our post-pandemic world.

Now, as we embark on the “new normal,” what creative energies do we want to take with us from pandemic to post-pandemic?  How will those energies continue to transform what we do, and what it means to be a “student” in the 21st century?  Most importantly, how can our “new normal” in the academy proceed — from its inception — with the values of inclusive excellence?  How can we turn the language of “DEI” (diversity, equality, inclusion) into transformative policies and practices that center social justice in our re-visioning of 21st century higher education?

Centering the voices of students, OVPTL will host a week-long series of events, roundtables, workshops, speakers, viewings, and activities that showcase what students, staff, faculty, and community partners understand as the major innovations in higher education that are emerging now in the post-pandemic.  These innovations run the gamut of what we mean when we say “higher ed” – including experiments in delivering course content, creating different forms of community at a distance, restructuring learning environments, fostering connection, and enlivening learning opportunities and relationship building.

The Festival invites student participation in three tracks:

  • TRACK ONE: An open call to students who want to propose and deliver events, talks, or panels.
  • TRACK TWO: On-campus units with student staff who collectively organize events, talks, or panels.
  • TRACK THREE: A set of student-organized events sponsored through a special OVPTL scholarship.

For TRACK TWO, OVPTL strongly encourages units with student staff (including peer mentors and tutors) to showcase one student-friendly, campus-wide event that will meditate on the questions above.  We know that you have been talking informally with students throughout the last year (if not even earlier!) about the future of higher education.  Show us some of those conversations in an informal, student-focused event.  Events might include panels of speakers (of students, staff, and faculty), guest or invited speakers from off-campus, art displays, architectural mockups, performances, installations, etc.  Events may be in person or online or hybridized.

For TRACK THREE, VP/Dean Dennin is making available a number of “scholarships” for undergraduate students who want to work on a project this coming summer (2021).  If your proposal is accepted, you will receive a $500 scholarship to compensate you for your time.  (We calculate the scholarship amount based on an assumed average of three hours of work a week for ten weeks during the summer for a “serious” project.)  Special consideration will be given to any student group that addresses the following questions:

*What does a commitment to DEI mean for the transformation of post-pandemic higher education?

*What does academic integrity mean in the 21st century?

*What should “grading” and the communication of “accomplishment” in learning look like in the 21st century?

*What is the “ideal” 21st-century course experience?

*What do students most need from education in the 21st century?

TO APPLY FOR ANY TRACK, send a one-page description of your proposed project, as well as the name of a faculty, staff, or student mentor, to associate dean Jonathan Alexander at jfalexan@uci.edu. Applications are due August 1, 2021. Upon selection, we will work with the units to schedule a time during the Festival week.

TIMELINE: We are looking at the third week of the Fall 2021 term as our target quarter for hosting the festival.

For more information, check out the Futures of Higher Education Festival homepage here. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan Alexander, associate dean in the Division of Undergraduate Education, at jfalexan@uci.edu.

Jonathan Alexander
Associate Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education
Chancellor’s Professor of English & Informatics