Beyond the Walls: The University of the Future

A Summit at The University of Pennsylvania, October 11 & 12, 2018

What is the future of the university?

What is the university of the future?

How have globalization, radical transformation of information technologies, digital media, and increasing demand for 21st-century skills and competencies combined to trigger an urgency for higher education institutions of all kinds to transform the ways they create and deliver content and respond to social and economic expectations?

This Summit will bring together global thought leaders, scholars, policymakers, administrators, private industry innovators, and technology experts from higher education, teaching & learning innovation, digital media, and social networking to examine the meaning of the university as virtual and online education are transforming the traditional “brick-and-mortar” campus.

It will feature a panel of Penn School Deans lead by Provost Wendell Pritchett.

The summit agenda will include roundtables on four themes:

        1. The Global University (extending the university’s global reach in an increasingly complex world where connectivity is both an opportunity and a challenge for the university as we know it)
        2. The Digital University (digital innovation in teaching and learning and the impact on the role of the university and the broader knowledge industries)
        3. The Equitable University (the potential for the university to impact inequality through the students it reaches)
        4. The Lifelong University (the role of the university in a world where accelerated knowledge creation requires a lifelong commitment to, and investment in, education and learning)

The event is sponsored by Penn’s Office of the Provost in cooperation with the Online Learning Initiative and the University of the Future Network. It is co-sponsored by Penn’s Graduation School of Education, the School of Arts and Sciences, and Perry World House. It will take place at the Perry World House. The event is open to the public, but registration is required.

The next ‘University of the Future Network’ meeting will take place at the Perry World House on Penn’s campus in Philadelphia, PA, USA from Thursday, October 11 to October 12, 2018.

“Beyond the Walls: The University of the Future.” We seek to examine the meaning of the university in an era when virtual and online education is transforming the brick-and-mortar campus. Stakeholders from across the University of Pennsylvania will engage in dialogue with global thought-leaders in higher education, teaching and learning innovation, digital media, social networks, and the role of the university in society and industry.


Day 1: Thursday, October 11, 2018

Meeting of the University of the Future Network

Day 2: Friday, October 12, 2018

Beyond the Walls: The University of the Future





Alec Gershberg Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Urban Studies; Senior Fellow, Penn GSE, International Education Development Program; University of Pennsylvania

Josep Duart Open University of Catalonia and UFN

Wendell Pritchett Provost, University of Pennsylvania



Topic: The Global University

ModeratorCristobal Cobo (Oxford Internet Institute & Center for Research – Ceibal Foundation)


Alan Ruby Senior Fellow; Senior Scholar, Penn AHEAD; Graduate School of Education; University of Pennsylvania

Airina Volungeviciene, Director of Innovative Studies Institute, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania, President of European Distance & E-Learning Network, EDEN)

Mauro Guillen Dr. Felix Zandman Professor of International Management; Professor of Management; Anthony L. Davis Director, The Lauder Institute; University of Pennsylvania

Ezekiel J. Emanuel  Diane v.S. Levy & Robert M. Levy Professor; Vice Provost for Global Initiatives; Chair, Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy; University of Pennsylvania

10:15am- 11:45am


Topic: The Digital University

ModeratorPeter Decherney Professor of Cinema & Media Studies and English; Faculty Director, Online Learning Initiative; University of Pennsylvania


Nikhil Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, GSVlabs & Senior Adviser, Coursera

Sarah Guri-Rosenblit Open University of Israel

Wallace Boston, President and CEO, American Public University System

Candace Thille (Director, Learning Science, and Stanford University)



Topic: The Equitable University

ModeratorMartha Burkle Assiniboine College and UFN


Andrea Mangiatordi, University of Milan-Bicocca and UFN

Manuel Gonzalez-Canche Associate Professor, Higher Education; University of Pennsylvania

Nora Lewis Vice Dean for Professional and Liberal Education, University of Pennsylvania

Leonard Wantcheckon Princeton University



Topic: The Lifelong University, A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION with University of Pennsylvania Deans

Moderator: Wendell Pritchett Provost, University of Pennsylvania


John  L. Jackson, Jr. Dean, School of Social Policy & Practice; Richard Perry University Professor; Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professor

Vijay Kumar Nemirovsky Family Dean, Penn Engineering and Professor; Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM); Computer and Information Science (CIS); Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE)

Steven J. Fluharty Dean, School of Arts & Sciences; Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neurosciences

Pam Grossman Dean, Graduate School of Education; George and Diane Weiss Professor of Education



Link to external registration page

Conference Organizers

Alec Gershberg, Ph.D.

Rebecca Stein, Ph.D.

Peter Decherney, Ph.D.