Radical Transformation: Featuring Cathy N. Davidson,” Duke Magazine at 25, November 2007

Cathy N. Davidson, a distinguished scholar of the history of technology and appointed in 2011 to the National Council on the Humanities by President Obama, is a leading innovator of new ideas and methods for learning and professional development–in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life.  She is a frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, corporations, non-profits and other organizations, and writes for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post, Times Higher Ed, as well as many other academic and trade publications in the U.S. and abroad. Her current book project, to be published by Basic Books, offers a model for revitalizing education where humanists and artists work with scientists to redesign education for the next generation of leaders of this fragile, complicated, interconnected world.

Davidson moved to the Graduate Center, The City University of New York, on July 1, 2014.  She   holds the position of Distinguished Professor and Director of The Futures Initiative, a new program designed to train the next generation of college professors and catalyze and draw upon the abundant energies and ideas of CUNY faculty and students for innovative leadership in higher education. Areas of interest include academic collaboration, new modes of publishing and communication, innovative and engaged teaching, peer-to-peer learning, virtual and distance collaboration, and other ways of rethinking across the traditional boundaries of higher education for the world we live in now.  The Futures Initiative champions public re-investment in higher education as a social good that contributes to a more just, equitable society.

At the Graduate Center, Davidson will also direct HASTAC@CUNY, bringing some of the central administrative and intellectual leadership of the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory to CUNY.  Cofounded by Davidson in 2002, HASTAC now has over 13,000 network members dedicated to “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.”  Another favorite HASTAC motto is “Difference is not our deficit; it’s our operating system.”


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Prior to coming to the Graduate Center, Davidson taught for over two decades at Duke University where she held two distinguished chairs, the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies.  She continues as the Ruth F. DeVarney Distinguished Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies, where, along with HASTAC cofounder David Theo Goldberg (Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute), she is co-director of the Digital Media and Learning Competitions administered by HASTAC and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  These competitions have awarded more than $10 million in grant funding to support 90 innovative projects operating in more than twenty countries.  The 2014 Competition challenges learning institutions to partner with technology developers to design more secure, private, trustworthy sites for their users.

From 1998-2006, Davidson served as Duke University’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost for  Interdisciplinary Studies.  In that role, she helped develop over seventy collaborative cutting-edge programs, including the Program in Information Science + Information Studies and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience as well as the University Scholars Program (in partnership with and supported by Duke alumna and former trustee, Melinda French Gates).  In an effort to design new telecommunications infrastructures to foster interactive learning, distance education, and the translation of specialized scholarship to a general audience, she helped launch Duke’s famous “iPod experiment,” in which incoming students in 2004 were given free iPods in exchange for designing an array of new learning applications for what, at the time, was billed as a “music listening device.”  In this program, Duke students held the world’s first academic “podcasting” conference and beta-developed bi-directional broadcasting (what would become iTunes U) and video capacities.  She has written about this experiment in the “Project Classroom Makeover” chapter of her influential Now You See It:  How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century (Viking-Penguin, 2011).  Now You See It was named a “top 10 science book” of the year by Publisher’s Weekly and has been the occasion for over eighty invited lectures  in the U.S. and internationally, including in Canada, Australia, Denmark, the UK, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

now_you_see_itCathy Davidson has written or edited more than twenty books. Her groundbreaking Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America, was the first study of how the new invention of mass publishing–made possible by steam-powered presses and machine-made ink and paper–contributed to new institutions of democracy and new forms of literacy, education, and social life in post-Constitutional Era American society. “I would not now be a good historian of the Internet,” Davidson has said, “if I had not been trained as a historian of the book.” Her work on the earlier Information Age has helped shape her work in The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (with HASTAC cofounder David Theo Goldberg). In 2012 Davidson was named the first educator on the six-person Board of Directors of Mozilla, the leading provider of free cutting-edge software, and she received the 2012 Educator of the Year Award (with David Theo Goldberg) from the World Technology Network for “Visionary Contribution to Science and Technology in Education.”  Davidson blogs regularly as Cat in the Stack on You can follow @CathyNDavidson on Twitter.

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About her recent move to the Graduate Center, Davidson has noted:  “I am coming to the GC because it is an incredible opportunity. The Graduate Center has some of the best scholars and graduate students in the country as well excellent leadership in the areas of innovation, technology, and the future of higher education,” noted Professor Davidson. “The City University of New York is a model for the entire country.  It proves that a public, urban university is both accessible and exemplifies the highest possible intellectual standards. CUNY does that. My dedication to public higher education, while always strong, has grown in the last few years. How can the most affluent nation on the planet not invest in the future of public education? The Graduate Center and the entire CUNY system can be, and will be, the world leader in higher education innovation. I’m so proud to be part of the effort at such a fine public urban university system.”

“We are thrilled that Cathy Davidson will be joining the Graduate Center and the City University of New York,” noted Chase F. Robinson, Interim President of the Graduate Center. “In combination with other faculty appointments and academic initiatives, her presence will accelerate the Graduate Center’s emergence as a national leader in the digital humanities, interdisciplinary scholarship, and Ph.D. education. As the largest public urban university system in the nation, the City University of New York is the ideal incubator for her visionary ideas about twenty-first-century learning and teaching.”

The full news release is available here:



For speaking engagements, Cathy Davidson is represented by Leigh Bureau

For publishing and book rights, Cathy Davidson is represented by Mullane Literary Associates