Browse Category: Cathy N. Davidson

Cathy Davidson Speaks About Teaching for the 21st Century at Fordham’s Faculty Technology Day 2012

Glenn Hendler, Cathy Davidson, and Micki McGee at Walsh Library

Post written by Elizabeth Cornell

The average person in school today will change careers 4 to 6 times over the course of his or her lifetime.

Sixty-five percent of fifteen year olds alive today will work in careers that have not yet been invented.
These predictions, offered by Duke University professor Cathy Davidson, probably surprised many people in the audience at Walsh Library on Faculty Technology Day. Over a hundred of Fordham’s faculty, graduate students, and staff gathered to hear Davidson’s talk on May 22, 2012. She used the predictions to introduce what she sees as a major problem in education today: Most institutions and teaching methods still place their attention on training students to become proficient twentieth-century workers. As she writes in her book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (2011), “We have schooled a particular form of attention based on a particular set of values for the last one hundred years, with an emphasis on specialization, hierarchy, individual achievement, the ‘two cultures,’ linear thinking, focused attention to task, and management from top down.” These are what Davidson calls “keywords for an industrial age.”

William James and Frederick W. Taylor contributed to twentieth-century ideas about attention and work.

Most institutions still teach and train students as though they will have one career, one specialty, and a small network of contacts. Bleak job climate aside, few American students plan to graduate from college and go looking for factory jobs or expect to manage a collection of workers focused on specific, repetitive  tasks.

Our current social and work environments, as well as aspects of our learning environments, are much different. They require us to multitask. They are filled with distractions. We communicate with people all over the world, instantly and in full color with sound. We gather and exchange information in ways that were, in some cases, unknown even five years ago. Though some people claim multitasking and distractions are what’s “wrong” with our culture, Davidson sees them as opportunities for new ways of thinking, expression, building things, and creating knowledge. She warns that schools are not preparing their students for such a climate. Schools should be training students to participate in projects that require collaboration among individuals with different strengths and talents, not teaching students how to ace a multiple choice test or to work silently and alone, at a single, timed task.

In the digital age, students need to be proficient at following a workflow that is not task specific. Students should become efficient multitaskers, which can be achieved through remixes and mashups. They need to fully engage in process, such as publishing a good draft on a blog or wiki, and revising later based on feedback from the crowd. Learning to data mine is necessary, as well, and that includes “big data,” the visualization of data, and storytelling. Students need to develop blended skills, including  an interdisciplinary familiarity with the front end and the back end (such as code) of things. Our differences are valuable. We should collaborate by difference and crowdsource our skills and ideas. These, Davidson says, are the keywords for the digital age.

Near the end of her talk, Davidson asked: “How are we training students for a Wikipedia world where people share knowledge for free, will change their jobs at least once but probably more times than that, and may work in a job that hasn’t been invented yet?” At that point, the audience knew the answer: We’re not. “What can we do to change our institutions?” Davidson knows this almost is a silly question to ask, but she nonetheless makes educators responsible: “It’s our job, not our administrations’, to make these changes.”

How do we begin? For Davidson, the most important thing we can do is change the focus of our attention: we’re not seeing what she calls “the gorilla in the room” because we have been told to look for something else. That is, we still value the old keywords, but they no longer apply to anyone’s needs today or in the future. Change can take place, as she writes in her book, if we see things differently, in a way “that’s based on multitasking our attention—not by seeing it all alone but by distributing various parts of a task among others dedicated to the same end.” Davidson closed her speech by urging us to “think, learn, and share” with each other so we can discover digital and non-digital solutions for learning and working together in a digital age.

Cathy Davidson’s visit on Faculty Technology Day was made possible by the Information Technologies Academic Computing Group, the Faculty Technologies Centers, the Arts and Sciences Deans and the Digital Humanities Working Group. Special thanks go to Associate Vice President for Academic Computing Fleur Eshghi for her work on this program.

Guest post by Elizabeth Cornell, Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Fordham University’s English Department.

Spring 2012 Digital Humanities Programs at Fordham

Fordham’s Digital Humanities Working Group is pleased to announce three campus events that feature speakers from across the country who are advancing thinking on new modes of pedagogy, working with new digital tools, and forging the links between theory and practice in the digital humanities.

•   •   •
Linking Networks of People with Networks of Information: the Linked Jazz Project, a talk by Cristina Pattuelli (Pratt Institute, School of Information and Library Science) on Linked Jazz, a project mapping jazz networks using semantic web protocols will be on Wednesday, April 11th at noon in Dealy Hall, Room 304 on Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus.  

Cristina Pattuelli
Principal Investigator for
Linked Jazz
Linked Jazz investigates the potential of the application of Linked Open Data (LOD) technology to enhance the discovery and visibility of digital cultural heritage materials. More specifically, the project explores the applicability of Friend-Of-A-Friend (FOAF) to digital archives of jazz history to expose relationships between musicians and reveal their community’s network. 
Cristina Pattuelli is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the Pratt Institute, New York. Her research focuses on information organization and knowledge representation methods and tools applied to information systems — digital libraries in particular. In addition to her research on information organization and knowledge representation methods and tools applied to information systems, and the semantic web, Pattuelli is also interested in human information behavior and interaction applied to specific user groups and communities of practice. Pattuelli teaches courses on Knowledge Organization, Cultural Heritage and Human Information Behavior. She received her Ph.D. in Information and Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds advanced degrees in Philosophy, Cultural Heritage Studies, and Archives from the University of Bologna, Italy.
This talk is recommended for anyone interested in jazz history, cultural heritage research, and new uses of linked open data on the semantic web. For more information on the Linked Jazz project, click here or cut and paste this URL:

This program is sponsored by the Digital Humanities Working Group with support from the Arts and Sciences Deans of Fordham University, and co-sponsored by the American Studies Program.  It is free and open to the public.

•  •  •
Debates in the Digital Humanities: An Evening with Matthew K. Gold, Elizabeth Losh, and Tom Scheinfeldt, Monday, April 30th, Lowenstein Hall, 12th floor President’s Dining Room, 6pm-8pm.

Debates in the Digital Humanities,
edited by Matthew K. Gold,
was published in January by
the University of Minnesota Press.

Join us in a discussion of recent debates in the digital humanities. This event celebrates the publication of the collection Debates in the Digital Humanities with the volume’s editor Matthew K. Gold and contributors Elizabeth Losh and Tom Scheinfeldt.  In a wide-ranging discussion this symposium will consider what is (or are) the digital humanities as a field (or as scholarly practices), and why this burgeoning area of scholarly inquiry may be critical to the revival of the humanities and academic life in general.

Matthew K. Gold, editor,
Debates in the Digital Humanities

Matthew K. Gold is the Director of the CUNY Academic Commons, an Assistant Professor at New York City College of Technology and CUNY Graduate Center Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, as well as the Advisor to the Provost for Master’s Programs and Digital Initiatives at the CUNY Graduate Center. His teaching and research interests center on the digital humanities, digital writing and rhetoric, open-source pedagogy, and new-media studies. Recent work has appeared in The Journal of Modern Literature, On the Horizon (co-authored with George Otte), and Kairos, as well as the edited collections From A to : Keywords of Markup  and Learning Through Digital Media. Gold is the editor of the collection Debates in the Digital Humanities, published by University of Minnesota Press (2012) as both a printed book and forthcoming as an open-access webtext. His digital projects include Looking for Whitman, a multi-campus experiment in digital pedagogy sponsored by two NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants, and a recently awarded Title V Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.  For more information on Matthew Gold, visit:

Elizabeth Losh, Director of the
Culture, Art, and Technology Program
U.C. San Diego

Elizabeth Losh is the author of Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (MIT Press, 2009) and Director of the Culture, Art, and Technology program at Sixth College at U.C. San Diego. She writes about institutions as digital content-creators, the discourses of the “virtual state,” the media literacy of policy makers and authority figures, and the rhetoric surrounding regulatory attempts to limit everyday digital practices. She has published articles about videogames for the military and emergency first-responders, government websites and YouTube channels, state-funded distance learning efforts, national digital libraries, the digital humanities, political blogging, and congressional hearings on the Internet. For more information about Losh’s work, visit

Tom Scheinfeldt,
Managing Director of the
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History
and New Media,
George Mason University

Tom Scheinfeldt is Managing Director of the Center for History and New Media and Research Assistant Professor of History in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. Tom received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Oxford University, where his doctoral thesis examined inter-war interest in science and its history in diverse cultural contexts, including museums, universities, World’s Fairs and the mass media. A research associate at the Smithsonian Institution Archives and a fellow of the Science Museum, London, Tom has lectured and written extensively on the history of popular science, the history of museums, history and new media, and the changing role of history in society. In addition to managing general operations at the Center for History and New Media, Tom directs several of its online history projects, including Omeka, THATCamp, One Week | One Tool, the September 11 Digital Archive, the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, the Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800, and Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives. Tom is co-editor (with Dan Cohen) of Hacking the Academy (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2012) and blogs at

This event is sponsored by the Digital Humanities Working Group with support from the Arts and Sciences Deans of Fordham University, and is co-sponsored by the American Studies Studies Program and the Medieval Studies Program.  Although it is free and open to the public, due to the intimate size of the room, registration is required no later than April 27th.  Register here or cut and paste into your browser.

•  •  •

Faculty Technology Day Keynote with Cathy N. Davidson. In partnership with Fordham’s Information Technology and Academic Computing Group, we will be welcoming Cathy N. Davidson to press the keynote at Faculty Technology Day, Tuesday, May 22nd* at the Walsh Library on the Fordham Rose Hill campus.

Cathy N. Davidson, author of
Now You See It and co-founder of

Cathy N. Davidson served as Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University from 1998 until 2006, where she helped create the Program in Information Science + Information Studies, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, and many other programs.  In 2002, she co-founded HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, or “haystack”), a virtual network of innovators with over 6,500 members that directs the annual $2 million HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions.

Davidson is the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University and has published more than twenty books, including Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America; Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory (with photographer Bill Bamberger); and The Future of Thinking (with HASTAC co-founder David Theo Goldberg).

In 2010, President Obama nominated her to a six-year term on the National Council on the Humanities, a position confirmed by the Senate in July 2011. She is currently on a thirty-site author tour for her latest book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking Press), which Publishers Weekly has named “one of the top ten science books” of the Fall 2011 season.  For more information on Cathy Davidson, visit her website at

Additional information on the title and time of Davidson’s keynote will follow.

This program is made possible by the Information Technologies Academic Computing Group, the Faculty Technologies Centers, the Arts and Sciences Deans and the Digital Humanities Working Group.  Special thanks go to Associate Vice President for Academic Computing Fleur Eshghi for her work on this program.

* Please note the change of date; originally scheduled for Monday, the program will now take place on Tuesday.

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