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

Cathy N. Davidson, a distinguished scholar of the history of technology, was appointed in 2011 to the National Council on the Humanities by President Obama.  She serves on the Board of Directors of Mozilla and was the 2016 recipient of the Ernest J. Boyer Award for Significant Contributions to Higher Education. She is a leading innovator of new ideas and methods for learning and professional development–in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life.

A frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, corporations, non-profits and other organizations, Davidson 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. She has published some twenty books on technology, the history of the book, literature, education, and cognitive neuroscience, including Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America; Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory, with documentary photographer Bill Bamberger; The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, with David Theo Goldberg; and, most recently, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.

Her new book, “The New Education: How To Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux,” will be published in September of 2017 by Basic Books. “The New Education” was the title Harvard President Charles Eliot used in his 1869 manifesto that laid the groundwork for changing the Puritan college into the modern university designed to train and credential America’s new professional-managerial class. This is the university we have inherited. Davidson shows why we need a “new education” for the world we live in now and helps us see the best ways to make that transformation.

Cathy N. Davidson moved to the Graduate Center, The City University of New York, on July 1, 2014.  She  holds the position of Distinguished Professor and Founding Director of The Futures Initiative, a new program designed to train the next generation of college professors and intellectual leaders. The Futures Initiative is dedicated to advancing “innovation and equity in higher education” and champions public re-investment in higher education as a social good that contributes to a more just, democratic society.

Davidson is also the co-founder and director of the world’s first and oldest academic social network, the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory ( or “haystack”). Since 2002, HASTAC has grown to over 14,500 members dedicated to “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.”  Another 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.

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,  which 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, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico, and Thailand.
“I would not now be a good analyst of the Internet as cultural, political, and technological force,” Davidson has said, “if I had not been trained as a historian of the book as a cultural, political, and technological force.”



With HASTAC co-founder David Theo Goldberg, Davidson is co-PI 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.  She and Goldberg were recipients of the 2012 Educator of the Year Award 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:  Cathy Davidson has noted:  “I am coming to the Graduate Center 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.” Professor Davidson notes, “The City University of New York  (CUNY) 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 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.