Summit to explore the future of liberal education in the digital age

Author: Sue Ryan

Liberal Education In The Digital Age

On Friday (Oct. 28), a group of university leaders will gather at the University of Notre Dame to consider the future of higher education and its principles and goals in an increasingly digital age. Understanding liberal education as a richly diverse method of cultivating the habits and dispositions of free inquiry, the pursuit of knowledge and engaged citizenship, the summit features two roundtable discussions open to the public.

Participating in the summit will be Susan Baldridge, provost of Middlebury College; Frank Cogliano, international dean for North America at University of Edinburgh; Pericles Lewis, president of Yale-NUS College in Singapore and incoming vice president for global strategy and deputy provost for international affairs at Yale University; John Varghese, principal of St. Stephen’s College in Delhi; and Lynn Zimmermann, senior vice provost for academic affairs, Emory University.

According to Elliott Visconsi, Notre Dame’s chief academic digital officer and the host of the summit, the aim of the event is to bring together faculty leaders from like-minded institutions to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly digital age.

The first roundtable discussion will address the topic of campus free speech. Controversies related to hateful or offensive speech have roiled campuses in the last year, compelling faculty, students and staff to weigh the proper way to create a community of learning, discovery and equity. The digital age presents new challenges to traditional ideas of campus speech and invites new possibilities. Among the questions posed in this roundtable will be: How should campus free speech policies and standards be aligned with the underlying principles of liberal education? What are the effects of social media and other digital communications technologies on campus freedom of speech for faculty, students and staff? The panel discussion will be held in the Center for Digital Scholarship in the Hesburgh Library, beginning at 10 a.m.

In the afternoon, participants will explore the landscape and future directions of higher education, considering in particular how the norms and principles of liberal education will be adapted or implemented to meet the challenges of the upcoming century. Among the questions to be addressed include the following: What are the core principles and questions that liberal education should foster in the years ahead? What will colleges and universities look like in 2036? How can digital learning and other emerging forms of collaboration and creativity extend or enhance the model of liberal education? The discussion begins at 2 p.m. and will be held in the Stayer Center in Morris commons A.

The summit is supported by the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost.

This summit is the second in a series of conversations hosted by the Office of the Provost. Earlier in October, for the University’s Digital Learning Day, Davidson College President Carol Quillen and University of Michigan professor Tim McKay presented keynote addresses at Notre Dame on higher education in the digital age and on learning analytics respectively.

Contact: Samantha Adamczewski, 574-631-1801,

Originally published by Sue Lister at on October 27, 2016.