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Fall 2014 Newsletter | Futures Initiative, 1.1

Printable version of our newsletter! 


It has been a very busy summer and we have much to report about the Futures Initiative and HASTAC@CUNY–places, people, events, lots of thank yous (we’ll hold those until the end).  This will be the first of an informal newsletter we’ll be sending out to let you know what is happening with FI and how you can participate.


The Futures Initiative:   The Graduate Center and City University of New York
This summer we launched the Futures Initiative, a joint project of the Graduate Center and the City University of New York, dedicated to supporting graduate students on their way to becoming the next generation of college professors, researchers, pedagogical innovators, and future institutional leaders and change makers. FI will host workshops, panels, programs, courses, competitive fellowship programs, and, eventually, fellowships for CUNY faculty wanting to co-teach at the Graduate Center and be part of this “learning as teaching, teaching as learning” project dedicated to pedagogy, civic action, and institutional transformation.   HASTAC co-founder Cathy N. Davidson moved from Duke University to the Graduate Center to direct this Initiative.
HASTAC and HASTAC@Duke and HASTAC@CUNY:  This summer we divided up the spaces and functions of the central offices of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory), a 14,000+ open network dedicated to “Changing How We Teach and Learn.”  Cathy Davidson has been the principal administrator for the HASTAC network since 2005, when the network and website moved from Stanford to Duke University.  She will continue in that role and will also be spearheading the development of a new HASTAC hub, HASTAC@CUNY.
HASTAC administers the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition, a partnership between Duke University and the University of California Humanities Research Institute which also hosts the DML Research Hub and many other DML projects. HASTAC cofounders Cathy Davidson and David Theo Goldberg are the co-directors of the DML Competition.  The Duke portion of the Competition will remain at Duke as will many of the webmaster functions and central network administrative functions.   Kaysi Holman is stepping into the role of Program Coordinator of HASTAC@Duke and the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge at Duke.   She will be working with the Lab Scholars and with HASTAC’s webmaster, Demos Orphanides, to populate a Duke-specific hub on
We invite any other institution to create a HASTAC hub.  These hubs will both be integrated into the larger HASTAC network and will be the locus of online activity for local organizations, institutions, and networks.
HASTAC@CUNY will be administered by a team of administrative professionals and Futures Initiative Fellows, under director Cathy Davidson.  We will also be creating a student and faculty Advisory Board, both within the CUNY system and externally.


We are pleased to announce six new members of the Futures Initiative and HASTAC@CUNY team:

Administrative Team:

Lauren Melendez, Administrative Specialist for the Futures Initiative and HASTAC@CUNY, will be joining the Graduate Center in late September. Lauren previously worked at ESPN Audio in Network Radio within the Sales Planning Department. In this role she coordinated with the Network Sales Team on stewarding General Market, Hispanic, Digital, and Remnant inventory with, pricing, clearing Network Audio buys, and worked with the finance department to expedite credit approvals, billing and several other administrative responsibilities. Lauren has been in the Media Industry for the last seven years and has worked in sales and buying roles at Fox Station Sales, as well as at Initiative Advertising Agency. Lauren is very excited in making the transition from Media into working here at the Graduate Center as an administrative specialist of the Futures Initiative and HASTAC. Lauren is also attending Graduate School at Hunter College in counseling.  Lauren feels the admin role here at CUNY will be a great learning experience and growth opportunity, and she is excited by the prospect of working with undergraduate students in the CUNY colleges and community colleges as part of her position at the Futures Initiative.
Katina Rogers, Deputy Director of the Futures Initiative and HASTAC@CUNY, will be joining the Graduate Center in October. Katina previously worked with the Modern Language Association as managing editor of MLA Commons, the MLA’s online platform for collaboration, discussion, and new modes of scholarly publishing. She contributed to the MLA’s initiatives on reforming doctoral education, broadening career horizons, and advocating for fair labor practices. Prior to working with the MLA, she conducted research on behalf of the Scholarly Communication Institute on perceptions of career preparedness among humanities scholars working in varied careers. While at SCI, she contributed to the development of the Praxis Network, a multi-institutional and international effort geared toward sharing model programs and experiments in humanities methodological training. Katina is the editor of #Alt-Academy, a digital publication dedicated to exploring the career paths of humanities scholars in and around the academy. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Futures Fellows:

Michael Dorsch

Michael is a doctoral student specializing in geography in the Earth and Environmental Sciences program at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He teaches in the Department of Geography at Hunter College, CUNY and has also conducted research for the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay. His research interests include using tools from geographic information systems and techniques from analytic cartography to visualize social and environmental inequities related to negative environmental exposures from energy production and industrial/post-industrial sites. Michael blogs on issues related to society/environment interactions, and his full CV is available at

Danica SavonickHeadshot

Danica is a third-year doctoral student in English at The Graduate Center, CUNY and a teaching fellow at Queens College, CUNY. Her research interests include twentieth century and contemporary literary and cultural studies, American studies, critical university studies, and critical race and gender studies (many, many studies). More specifically, she is interested in how literary, cultural, and popular texts help us understand the experiences of historically underrepresented populations within academia, and how these social texts theorize the relationship between education and social justice. She experiments with images. She dances, cooks, and obsesses over her cat.  She is a HASTAC Scholar.

Lisa Tagliaferri

Lisa is pursuing a PhD in Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her current research focuses on late medieval and early renaissance Italian and English literature, and utilizes digital humanities techniques. She also has a background in the computer sciences, having earned an MSc from the University of London. Her thesis explored educational gaming and provided a research context for a Java-based prototype of a multi-platform educational game she developed based on a BBC Radio program. Lisa has a penchant for traditional and antique photography processes, and blogs about education and technology at

Kalle Westerlings200_kalle.westerling

Kalle is a performance and theatre scholar, currently working on two dissertations, one for Stockholm University in Sweden on the formation of the Swedish brand of drag show. His other dissertation project, for The Graduate Center, CUNY in New York City, concerns male-identified bodies in 20th century burlesque and boylesque. He also co-directs the HASTAC Scholars project for the The Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC). He is on the Board of Directors for The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, as well as the board of Swedish Performance Studies-focused publishing house STUTS. He has held fellowships from the American-Scandinavian Foundation and the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education. His first book, on the Swedish drag group After Dark, was published in 2006. Read his full CV at




“Mapping the Universe and Other Small Things: The Quest for Story-Based Exploratory Learning.”
Curtis Wong, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

October 3, 10 am
Science Center, Room 4102
Graduate Center, CUNY

This talk deconstructs a number of critically acclaimed interactive media projects across vastly different topics ranging from music, art, astronomy, history, economics, cultural history, physics and data visualization to reveal a common information architecture mapping for compelling and engaging interactive story based exploratory learning.

Curtis Wong, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, is responsible for basic and applied research in media and interaction. He has been granted more than 50 patents in areas such as data visualization, user interaction, interactive television, media browsing and automated cinematography. He is also co-author of Microsoft’s 5,000th patent in 2006 and 10,000th patent in 2009.
Recently, Curtis has led the effort to enable interactive spatial temporal data visualization as a broad capability for everyone to gain insight into the growing tide of data that is being generated from devices and services. This work, codenamed Project GeoFlow, will be released as part of Excel 2013 as Power Map and is Microsoft’s first geospatial temporal data visualization application for the broad market.
Previously, Curtis conceived and developed Project Tuva in collaboration with Bill Gates to make the Messenger Series Lectures by acclaimed Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman freely available over the Internet. Tuva features an innovative interactive player with links to simulations and detailed reference information directly from key points in the lecture. Project TUVA was a WEBBY Award finalist 2011 in the intensely competitive Best Video on the Web category.
In 2008 Curtis fulfilled a lifelong goal to create the WorldWide Telescope (WWT), which is a free, rich interactive virtual simulation of the visible Universe to enable kids of all ages to explore and understand the Universe. Curtis worked closely with WWT’s Principal Architect and Engineer Jonathan Fay to create WWT’s integrated rich media authoring, animation, and playback engine to allow anyone to produce rich interactive guided tours of the Universe.  WWT guided tours look like HD movies with narration, music, graphics, text, and animation but are fully interactive at any time with embedded links to information sources all over the Web. The tours are created by moving a virtual camera through the rich 3D environment to define paths that are rendered in real time within the rich visual environment from the highest resolution images from ground and space based telescopes. WWT has enabled more than ten million kids of all ages from every continent on Earth to explore the Universe and learn about astronomy from scientists and educators. WWT is installed in the Hayden Planetarium in New York, The Adler Planetarium in Chicago and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and other cities to enable interactive exploration of the Universe by the public. WorldWide Telescope was launched at the TED Conference in 2008 and featured at TEDxCalTech in 2011.
Curtis has spent some of his time working with non-profits to develop examples of next generation educational media such as his collaboration PBS.  He worked with WGBH Frontline to produce The Age of AIDS on the global AIDS pandemic in 2006 and the broadband enhanced documentary Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, winning a 2002 British Academy Award for Online Learning and nominated for the first interactive TV Emmy. The President of PBS presented Commanding Heights to Congress in 2002 as an example of the future of public broadcasting interactive educational programming on the Web.
Prior to Microsoft in 1998, Curtis was Director of Intel Productions in Silicon Valley where he conceived and developed (no longer available) the first Broadband blockbuster art museum exhibition network on the Web. The site featured faithful 3D recreations of concurrent art exhibitions in major museums, such as American Century Exhibition at the Whitney Museum, Van Gogh’s Van Goghs at The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and the Virtual Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Visitors to the virtual museum could see the same guided tour as in the museum and closely examine the works of art with related letters and drawings for context as well as text chat with other visitors, take photos from anywhere in the virtual museum and email them to friends via an electronic post card with an invitation to visit the museum.
Curtis was also responsible for creation of the first enhanced digital television program broadcast in the United States: Frank Lloyd Wright—The Poetry of Structure accompanying the national PBS broadcast of the Ken Burns film on Frank Lloyd Wright. The interactive program followed the film and featured interactive guided tours of the Guggenheim, Unity Temple, and Falling Water led by Eric Lloyd Wright.
Prior to Intel, Curtis was General Manager of Corbis Productions, where he was responsible for the creation of a critically acclaimed series of CD-ROMs including: A Passion for Art, Critical Mass, FDR, and Leonardo da Vinci which collectively won dozens of awards and critical acclaim in the NY Times and the NY Times Book Review. Walt Mossberg’s Personal Technology column in the Wall St Journal’s called A Passion for Art the “greatest CD-ROM of any kind to cross my desk since the multimedia revolution began” and NPR’s All Things Considered featured A Passion for Art which was likely the first and last time a CD-ROM was demonstrated on the radio!
Before Corbis, Curtis was a producer for the Criterion Collection where he created special editions of major feature films on laserdisc winning Video Magazine’s top award for The Last Picture Show and Jason and the Argonauts. He produced other special editions of films on laserdisc including: The Great Escape, Bad Day at Black Rock, Citizen Kane, Goldfinger, and The Devil and Daniel Webster. Curtis was also an interactive producer for the Voyager Company (the other side of Criterion) where he was responsible for the group producing Multimedia Beethoven, Amanda Stories, and Pedro Meyer’s I Photograph to Remember, which were three of the first ten multimedia CD-ROMs for Windows and the first multimedia CD-ROM title from Microsoft in 1991.
Curtis is an honorary professor of histories and humanities at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Curtis has served on the board of trustees for the Seattle Art Museum for the past decade, on the advisory board for national PBS Kids for the past eight years, an advisor to the Director of the Barnes Foundation, an advisor to the Getty Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute, an advisor to the Experience Music Project museum, the All Stars Orchestra, and other cultural organizations.
Curtis has previously served as a trustee of the Rhode Island School of Design, and advisory boards for Ovation — The Arts Network, PBS Online, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Canadian Film Centre, and the American Film Institute. He is included in Richard Saul Wurman’s book, Who’s Really Who: 1000 Most Creative Individuals in the USA and has been invited to speak about his work at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the TED conference in 1997, 1999, 2008 and TEDx CalTech in 2011.
Curtis’s work has received numerous industry awards including the first Interactive Television Emmy nomination in 2002, a British Academy Award,  New York Film Festivals Gold Medals 1995, 1996, 1997, ID (International Design) Magazine’s Interactive Design Review 1997, Communication Arts Interactive Design Annual 1996 & 1997, many New Media Invision Gold awards, Time Magazine’s Best of the Web 1997. The WorldWide Telescope was awarded the ID (International Design) Magazine Annual Design Review, Best of Category: Interactive and AIGA Certificate of Excellence in Design and Time Magazine’s 50 best of the Web in 2008.

FI Oct 3 Wkshp 09172014 horizThe Futures Initiative:  A Workshop and Information Session

October 3, 2pm-3:30 pm.
Room 9204
Graduate Center, CUNY
This workshop introduces the Graduate Center’s new Futures Initiative and the peer-led structure of “teaching as learning, learning as teaching.”
Bring your laptops!   Workshop participants will work together on a collaborative project that exemplifies the Futures Initiative method.

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What Is a Dissertation?  New Models, Methods, Media

October 10, 4 pm-5:30 pm EST
Live Streamed, Live Tweeted
Graduate Center, CUNY
ROOM CORRECTION 4406, English Department Lounge
365 Fifth Avenue NY NY

This panel features five people who have either defended or are writing dissertations in innovative formats–Scalar, video, comics, multimedia interactives, data visualization.  Bring your laptops!  The audience will be contributing to a live Google Doc of questions and ideas.
Chair:  Cathy N. Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Director, Futures Initiative and HASTAC@CUNY
Jade E. Davis, Communications, University of North Carolina
Dwayne Dixon,  Cultural Anthropology, Duke University
Gregory T. Donovan, Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University  (PhD, Graduate Center, CUNY)
Amanda Licastro, English, Graduate Center, CUNY
Nick Sousanis, Teachers College, Columbia University
 Virtual Partners:

We will also have virtual participants from Uruguay and Australia.


Voto Latino Innovators Challenge: Applications Accepted Through October 15

VLIC-Logo-2The Voto Latino Innovators Challenge is funding $500,000 worth of tech projects that connect communities, anyone 18-34 can enter.

The VL Innovators Challenge was created to get Millennials, especially Latino Millennials, thinking about technology both as an innovative change agent and as a potential career.

The VL Innovators Challenge is spearheaded by Voto Latino, a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering Latino Millennials to create positive change in their communities, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through a grant to the University of California. The grant is administered by HASTAC.

The VL Innovators Challenge supports Connected Learning, a new approach to learning that is designed for the digital age.

Trust Challenge: Now Accepting Higher Ed Applications

Awards: $10,000 to $150,000 for year-long development grants; $1.2 million will be awarded in total.
Timeline: Final applications are due Monday, November 3, 2014 at 5pm PST/ 8pm EST.
About:  Trust, privacy, and safety are critical to learning in an open online world. How can learners exercise control over who sees and uses their data? What tools do they need to navigate, collaborate, and learn online with confidence? What solutions will foster greater civility and respect in online learning environments? How can open technical standards create more opportunities to share and collaborate online in a spirit of trust?
The Trust Challenge is the fifth open, international HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition, and will award $1.2 million to institutions and organizations that tackle these questions in real-life learning contexts. The Trust Challenge will fund successful collaborations or “laboratories” that create scalable, innovative, and transformative exemplars of connected learning that bridge technological solutions with complex social considerations of trust

The End of Higher Education: A Discussion About Purpose

On September 15th, Futures Initiative Director Cathy Davidson discussed The End of Higher Education with Mike Wesch and Randy Bass as part of the Connected Courses Kick-off Live Event.
As shrinking budgets, skeptical publics, and rising alternatives continue to threaten the end of higher education, we host this conversation as a contemplation of what the end – or purpose – of higher education should be. We will also reflect on how individual teachers might find their own core reason for teaching a specific class, and ways to build buy-in to that reason among students.Check out Unit 1: Why We Need a Why and a video recording of the conversation.

Cathy Davidson discusses Technology Distraction on NPR

On September 26th, Futures Initiative Director Cathy Davidson talked on the NPR Show To The Point.
Who’s in Charge: You or Your Smart Phone?
Drivers tell pollsters they know it’s too dangerous to text while they’re at the wheel, but about one third admit they do it anyway. Now there’s persuasive evidence that we don’t have as much choice as we tell ourselves. Matt Richtel reports for the New York Times, where he writes about the intersection of technology, neuroscience and public policy. He’s author of a new book called A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention.
Matt Richtel, Technology Reporter, New York Times (@mrichtel)
David Greenfield, Center for Internet and Technology Addiction (@CITACenter)
Cathy Davidson, City University of New York (@CathyNDavidson)
Listen to a recording of the show here.


Mapping the Futures of Higher Education (Spring 2015)

Professors Cathy Davidson and William Kelly
IDS 70200
Spring 2015, Tuesday 4-6 PM
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Departments Crosslisting IDS 70200 (to date; course numbers will come soon):
  • Comparative Literature
  • Critical, Social and Personality Psychology
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences & Environmental Psychology
  • English
  • Urban Education
Enrollment by Permission of the Instructors
“Mapping the Futures of Higher Education” is the first course being offered as part of the Graduate Center and CUNY’s new Futures Initiative, designed to prepare the next generation of college professors.  The class will be student-led and one aim is to experiment with a range of pedagogical forms while also engaging in thoughtful conversation about the nature, purpose, and state of higher education today.
This course will be team-taught by Professor Cathy Davidson, director of the Futures Initiative, and former GC President William Kelly.  The course is designed especially for second, third, or fourth year students who are teaching during S 2015 at one of CUNY’s colleges or community colleges.  Our focus will be on working together to design innovative peer-to-peer pedagogies that engage students, spark creativity, span disciplines and technologies, and offer meaningful public engagement.

3 Responses to Fall 2014 Newsletter | Futures Initiative, 1.1

  1. Cathy N. Davidson September 19, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    Here is the official CUNY Map of NYC. It will be fascinating to populate it with other data, other ways of visualizing education as an asset, and to see what we can do to make a stirring, vibrant, visible contribution: Part of our challenge is to encourage the reinvestment and greater investment in CUNY as the city’s most affordable (perhaps only affordable) asset. Now ranked as #1 in income inequality, CUNY is a bargain: you can send your kid to CUNY virtually free. CUNY professors are incredibly dedicated, hardworking, and need more support. Part of the Futures Initiative is to encourage greater support for those who are giving so much to this city.

  2. Cathy N. Davidson September 19, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    One of our collective projects for next term is building, online, the CUNY Map of NYC, including all the students at all the colleges who will be participating by taking courses taught by the Graduate Center students in this class. In the city with the worst income inequality in the country, students in NY can get a CUNY education virtually debt free. We want to show what that produces for the city–intellectual life, job training, innovation, the arts. Our desire is to motivate more support for the system, especially for the underpaid and often adjunct teaching staff. They deserve it. In the short time I’ve been here I’ve been overwhelmed to meet such talented, hardworking, dedicated, innovative teachers!

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