Monthly Archives: February 2014

Forward Thinking: Interdisciplinary Programs and the Adjacent Possible

[Cross-posted to the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences blog.]

When I was an undergraduate, the recruiting poster for an interdisciplinary program in the humanities asked, “What do Leonardo da Vinci and Martha Stewart have in common?” The answer: “They’re both generalists.”

Whatever you think of its chosen exemplars, that program is no more. All interdisciplinary programs ebb and flow with intellectual currents, as they should — but their common aim is to imagine future fields of study, emerging from the fields between the disciplinary borders of our imagined present.

Read More

Rethinking Industrial-Era Education in the Information Age

[Cross-posted on the LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences blog, 2014-02-21]

I’m now a third of the way through my first MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course. Received wisdom says that the fact that I’m still enrolled in a MOOC makes me vanishingly rare. But it seems that wisdom is wrong; the completion rates for some MOOCs are near 48%.

And this MOOC’s modus operandi is to reject received wisdom. The History and Future of Higher Education encourages participants (to quote its subtitle) to unlearn the traditional model of higher education, with its roots in the middle ages and its growth in the industrial 19th century. And then to relearn a new model for the information age. In short, it asks if you were designing a university in 2014, what would it look like? How would it work? Would it have labs and lecture theatres, faculties and four-year degrees? Or would it use different systems to reach the same intellectual and economic outcomes?

Read More

Report on Big Data and Digital Scholarship

Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada

I spent today in an Ottawa conference room talking about data management plans for Canada’s digital scholars. It was hosted by the main federal granting agencies (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR, and the CFI), collectively known as the TC3+. The TC3+ recently reported on the future of research data, including data stewardship and funding guidelines. Today’s conversation was based on that report, and on its 58 responses from universities, organizations, and individual researchers.

Read More