PANEL DISCUSSION: Teaching for the Future: Grand Challenges in 21st Century Higher Education

On October 31, 2018 the Department of Media Theory is hosting a panel discussion on the future of education. The panel discussion will provide an opportunity to set out a debate on how the rise of Grand Challenges will affect the requirements and standards of twenty-first century higher education. Our societies are currently facing tremendous social challenges and ecological threats, such as climate change, environmental collapse, mass migration, violations of human rights, social inequality and poverty, the slow erosion of democratic systems and constitutional structures, and mass unemployment in times of digital transformation and the rise of robotics. Grand Challenges touch upon many facets of human existence, be it in a material, economic, environmental, social, cultural, technological, political, medical, aesthetic or moral sense, and cannot be tackled by single disciplines alone.

Today an increasing number of universities seek to contribute to solving major societal and ecological challenges — demonstrating the value of university research and education. However, the nature of Grand Challenge programmes is most notably cross-disciplinary and requires collaboration across sectors and disciplinary boundaries, and is therefore not in tune with the social and administrative contours of our modern disciplines and their subsystems, which exhibit a high degree of specialization. Disciplines have established themselves as efficient systems of knowledge production and dissemination of scientific knowledge acquisition over the past two hundred years, and are the driving forces behind those administrative structures that foster the fragmentation of curricula in our systems of higher education. Yet whether highly specialized, disciplinary studies will be able to meet the demands of a world in transition is being increasingly called into question today.

Currently, a whole range of alternative models is being explored in the field of higher education, ranging from interdisciplinary courses to solid holistic approaches that aim to bring the full diversity of human ways of knowing and capabilities together in an integrative educational approach. Integrative study models consciously seek to bridge the gap between different forms of knowledge and understanding, as well as the different pedagogical approaches of a variety of disciplines, such as the humanities, the arts, the natural sciences, engineering, mathematics, and medicine, as well as new technologies to prepare students better for work, life, and twenty-first century citizenship. Learning outcomes associated with integrated education, such as critical and holistic thinking, communication, and teamwork skills and abilities for lifelong learning, are more and more favoured in a world that is confronted with enormous strides in technology, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and communications. Integrative education can take many forms and has many different faces, but it always requires an intensive analysis of diverse didactic models, which places far-reaching demands on the teaching staff. These new requirements can range from the development of a fundamentally new didactic-methodological framework of cross-disciplinary curricula to the selection and evaluation of external content as well as collaboration with new (external) sectors or dealing with the rise of education technology. This development places new expectations on teachers, changing their role from a provider of specialized knowledge to an innovator and mentor, who is primarily building bridges between different epistemologies and diverse fields of knowledge and aims primarily to foster holistic student development in a global and progressively disruptive world.

Participants: Gerald Bast, Rector of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria
Ingeborg Reichle, Chair of the Department of Media Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria

Shalini Randeria, Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, Austria, Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland

Guna Nadarajan, Dean of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

Gerald Bast is the Rector of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, since 2000. He studied law and economics, worked between 1980 and 1999 at the Austrian Federal ministry for Higher Education and Research, which is responsible for university law and university reforms. As an author and editor, he has published on various subjects of university law and university management, cultural policy, arts-based research and the role of higher art education in twenty-first century societies. He has given numerous lectures on cultural policy, higher art education, and the mission of art schools for creative innovation societies, for example, at Johns Hopkins University (USA), University of Auckland (NZ), TongJi University (Shanghai, China), TsingHua University (Beijing, China), Lalit Kala Academy, National Indian Academy of the Arts (New Delhi, India), University of the Arts Belgrade (Serbia), Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (Budapest, Hungary), European Cultural Forum (Brussels, Belgium), and European Forum Alpbach (Austria). He serves as Representative Board member of the European League of Institutes of the Arts and is editor-in-chief of the book series “Art, Research, Innovation and Society” at Springer International Publisher.

Ingeborg Reichle is the Chair of the Department of Media Theory and was Founding Chair of the Department Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (2017–2018), designing the integrated curriculum of the new BA study programme Cross-Disciplinary Strategies: Applied Studies in Art, Science, Philosophy, and Global Challenges at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. She is a Board Member and co-founder of the German Association for Interdisciplinary Image Science (Deutsche Gesellschaft für interdisziplinäre Bildwissenschaft), and an active member of the U.S. College Art Association (CAA), the International Association for Aesthetics (IAA), and the International Association of Bioethics (IAB). In Vienna she serves as co-host for Leonardo’s LASER Talks (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous), an international programme of gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal conversations. Her main area of research and teaching is the encounter of the arts with cutting edge technologies such as biotechnology and synthetic biology, taking into account artistic responses as well as the respective discourses in the sciences and our societies in order to develop a critical understanding of the role of the arts in the twenty-first century. A further field of her research is the rise of new cartographies of contemporary art which are evolving through the process of globalisation and fostering new post-colonial constellations in the art world.

Shalini Randeria is the Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, as well as Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. She is currently a member of the editorial boards of the American Ethnologist, Public Anthropologist, and The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology as well as a member of the advisory board of the journal Comparative Migration Studies. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Central European University (CEU), the Academic Advisory Board of the Wien Museum, as well as the Advisory Board of the Higher Education Support Program of the Open Society Foundations. Her research foci include the anthropology of law, state, and policy, particularly the transnationalisation of law, normative pluralism; reproductive rights, population policy and gender; displacement and privatisation of common property resources; the anthropology of globalisation and development; post-coloniality and multiple modernities; and civil society and social movements.

Guna Nadarajan, an art theorist and curator working at the intersections of art, science and technology, is Dean and Professor at the Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Michigan. His publications include five books and over 100 book chapters, catalogue essays, academic articles and reviews, which have been translated into 16 languages. He has curated many international exhibitions including in China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Germany, USA, Singapore, and Mexico. He is active on the advisory boards of several organizations including ArtScience Museum (Singapore), New Media Caucus, and Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar. He has advised UNESCO and the Smithsonian Institution on creative aspects of digital arts and culture. He worked on establishing a National Science Foundation-funded Network for Science Engineering, Art and Design, and recently served on the committee for the Integration of STEM, Humanities and Arts in Higher Education Report convened by The Board on Higher Education and Workforce of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Date and time: Wednesday, October 31, 2018, 6 pm
Venue: Vordere Zollamtsstraße 7, Lecture Hall FLUX 2/246, second floor
1030 Vienna

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