Announcing: Rethinking Higher Education for the Knowledge Economy

A new Futures Initiative course taught by Ann Kirschner, Dean Emerita of Macaulay Honors College and University Professor, CUNY; and Gilda Barabino, Dean and Berg Professor, Grove School of Engineering, City College, CUNY

NEW YORK, April 24, 2017—In the Fall of 2017, students across CUNY and New York City will have a unique opportunity to take a course on the future of higher education from two of America’s most innovative educators, Ann Kirschner, Dean Emerita of Macaulay Honors College and University Professor, CUNY; and Gilda Barabino, Dean and Berg Professor, Grove School of Engineering, City College, CUNY.

The graduate seminar “Rethinking Higher Education for the Knowledge Economy,” offered by the Futures Initiative and the Graduate Center, will address the question, “What does it take to prepare students for the 21st Century?” The answers will engage with a host of issues and innovations in higher education, with a special focus on technology and new pathways that lead to lifelong learning. The course will also address issues of public higher education underlying social mobility and the nature of democracy.

With a background spanning higher education, media, technology, and more, Dr. Kirschner deeply understands the intersections between universities, corporations, government, and the public. As the first African-American woman to serve as a dean of engineering at a non-HBCU institution, Dr. Barabino brings a deep background in scientific research and STEM advocacy as well as administrative acumen. Together, their deep backgrounds in humanities and science will offer students a nuanced understanding of how higher education works, and how it could work better.

The course is one of seven distinguished, interdisciplinary, team-taught courses offered by the Futures Initiative in 2017-2018. The courses, selected in a CUNY-wide competition, bring together faculty members from the Graduate Center and other CUNY colleges. The aim of these courses is to support diversity, equity, and student-centered interdisciplinary learning at the graduate level, to strengthen faculty diversity at the Graduate Center, and to establish robust peer mentoring among faculty members across the CUNY system. In 2017-2018, these courses include:

Fall 2017

  • Rethinking Higher Education for the Knowledge Economy
    Ann Kirschner (CUNY, University Professor, and Macaulay Honors College, Dean Emerita) and Gilda Barabino (City College, Dean, Grove School of Engineering)
  • Public School: Art in the City
    Claire Bishop (The Graduate Center, Art History) and Paul Ramirez-Jonas (Hunter College, Art)
  • Participatory Action Research in the Borderlands: Research and Pedagogy for the Americas
    Ofelia García (The Graduate Center, Urban Education and Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages) and Rosario Torres-Guevara (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Academic Literacy and Linguistics)
  • Undocumented, Illegal, Citizen: The Politics and Psychology of Belonging in the United States
    Colette Daiute (The Graduate Center, Psychology) and David Caicedo (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Psychology – Social Sciences, Human Services & Criminal Justice)

Spring 2018

  • Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication
    Cathy N. Davidson (The Graduate Center, English) and Shelly Eversley (Baruch College, English)
  • Change and Crisis in Universities: Research, Education, and Equity in Uncertain Times
    Ruth Milkman (The Graduate Center, Sociology) and Katherine Chen (City College and The Graduate Center, Sociology)
  • Critical Perspectives on Childhood and Pedagogy
    Wendy Luttrell (The Graduate Center, Urban Education; Critical Psychology; Sociology) and Amita Gupta (City College, Teaching, Learning & Culture and Early Childhood Education)

Registration is now open to Graduate Center students, CUNY e-permit students, and NYC Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium students.

For more information, please contact the Futures Initiative at or visit


About the Faculty Members

Ann Kirschner

Ann KirschnerAnn Kirschner is a University Professor at The City University of New York and a faculty fellow of the Futures Initiative at the CUNY Graduate Center. She was the Dean of Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, and founding director of the Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship (WiTNY) initiative with Cornell Tech.  A pioneer in e-learning, she founded FATHOM with Columbia University, London School of Economics, and other leading institutions.  As the first digital strategist for the National Football League, she launched NFL.COM and SUPERBOWL.COM.  She is a consultant in media, technology, and education and serves on corporate and nonprofit boards. The author of Sala’s Gift and Lady at the OK Corral: the True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp, Ann Kirschner is a graduate of University of Buffalo, University of Virginia, and received her PhD from Princeton University, where she was a Whiting Fellow in the Humanities.

Gilda Barabino

Gilda BarabinoDr. Gilda A. Barabino is Dean and Berg Professor at The Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York (CCNY). She has appointments in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education/CUNY School of Medicine. Prior to joining CCNY, she served as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. At Georgia Tech she also served as the inaugural Vice Provost for Academic Diversity. Prior to her appointments at Georgia Tech and Emory, she rose to the rank of Full Professor of Chemical Engineering and served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Northeastern University. She is a noted investigator in the areas of sickle cell disease, cellular and tissue engineering, and race/ethnicity and gender in science and engineering. She consults nationally and internationally on STEM education and research, diversity in higher education, policy, workforce development and faculty development.

Dr. Barabino received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). She was the Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer for 2012-2014. She has an extensive record of leadership and service in the chemical and biomedical engineering communities. She is Past-President of BMES and President of AIMBE. Dr. Barabino has over a decade of experience in leading National Science Foundation initiatives for women and minority faculty and is the founder and Executive Director of the National Institute for Faculty Equity.


About the Futures Initiative

The Futures Initiative advocates greater equity and innovation in higher education at every level of the university. Housed at the Graduate Center and reaching throughout the CUNY community, the Futures Initiative empowers the next generation of intellectual leaders with bold, public, and engaged teaching and learning. Through HASTAC@CUNY (a hub of the online network Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory, or HASTAC), the Futures Initiative extends its collaborative peer-to-peer practices across institutions, disciplines, national boundaries, and economic and social disparities, promoting reinvestment in higher education as a public good.

Learn more at


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309