The New Education: How To Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

The New Education: How To Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

I am thrilled to announce that I now have the bound galleys of The New Education:  How To Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux.  The book will be published by Basic Books on September 5, 2017.   The title of the book is the same one Charles Eliot used for his 1869 manifesto that inspired his 40-year reign at Harvard where he led his colleagues in turning the old Puritan college into the modern American research university.  I argue it’s time for a do-over. 

We need a “new education” to prepare our students for the post-Internet world in which the robots aren’t just coming, they are here and taking away middle-class occupations.  We need a new education to prepare our students to understand the new arrangements of the complex world we live in, so that they can be, as inventor and visionary Buckminster Fuller insisted, “architects of the future, not its victims.”


I’ll be on a national book tour for much of the Fall.  I hope to see you on the way.   I’ll use my HASTAC blog to report on what I learn as I travel around.  I could not be more excited.  Thanks to all of you for your feedback, comments, input, and your own insights into “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.”  As I say in the Acknowledgments, HASTAC has inspired this book.

Below, I’ll add a photo of the back cover, with a marvelously generous quote by Jill Lepore, the distinguished historian and New Yorker writer, who is also famous for her New Yorker take down of the “disruption” theory of higher education change, “What the Gospel of Innovation Gets Wrong.” (Well worth a re-read!)  I’m honored that Lepore sees that my view of innovation is designed to improve students’ lives not to enrich someone else’s coffers.


“This book is dedicated to Millennials and to all future generations.  You deserve a better chance than you’ve been given.  And to parents, professors, pundits, policy makers, and presidents who can work to change higher education before it’s too late.”



The New Education
How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux Cathy N. Davidson
September 5, 2017
Fall 2017

The New Education takes a good hard look at the old education, and finds it sorely wanting. Are colleges and universities failing an entire generation of young people? Yes, argues Cathy Davidson, a renowned literary scholar and a leader in higher education reform. This is an important, illuminating, and urgent book whose argument is driven by a deep knowledge of the past and an even deeper commitment to the future.
—Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History, Harvard University

A leading educational thinker argues that the American university is stuck in the past—and shows how we can transform it for our era of constant change

In The New Education, Cathy N. Davidson reveals that we desperately need a revolution in higher learning if we want our students to succeed in our age of precarious work and technological disruption. Journeying from elite private schools to massive public universities to innovative community colleges, she profiles iconoclastic educators who are remaking their classrooms by emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and adaptability over expertise in a single, often abstract discipline. Working at the margins of the establishment, these innovators are breaking down barriers between ossified fields of study, presenting their students with multidisciplinary, real-world problems, and teaching them not just how to think, but how to learn. The New Education ultimately shows how we can educate students not only to survive but to thrive amid the challenges to come.




1 Quarter-Life Crisis  

2 College for Everyone  

3 Against Technophobia

4 Against Technophilia

5  Palpable Impact

6  Why College Costs So Much

7  The Measure of a Student

9  The Future of Learning

Ten Tips for How To Get the Most Out of Your College Experience

Ten Tips for How to Turn Any Classroom Into a Place of Active, Engaged Learning


AUTHOR BIO:  Cathy N. Davidson directs the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY, after twenty-five years as a professor and an administrator at Duke University. The author of many books, including Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Change the Way We Live, Work, and Learn, she has also written for the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company, among other publications.  She is on the Board of Directors of Mozilla, was appointed by President Obama to the National Council for the Humanities, and was the 2016 recipient of the Ernest J. Boyer Award for Significant Contributions to Higher Education. Davidson lives in New York, NY.


In honor of the publication of The New Education, a contribution has been made to a scholarship fund established at the Graduate Center, CUNY.