Cathy Davidson’s “The New Education” wins 2019 Frederic W. Ness Book Award

The Futures Initiative Team is thrilled (and proud) to announce that Cathy Davidson, Distinguished Professor at The Graduate Center CUNY and Founding Director of The Futures Initiative, is the winner of the prestigious 2019 Frederic W. Ness Book Award for her influential work The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux, published in 2017 by Basic Books.

The Ness Award was established by The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in 1979, and since then it recognizes, yearly, the book that best contributes to the understanding and improvement of liberal education. The AAC&U is the leading national association dedicated to advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy. In congratulating Cathy Davidson for the award and her many important contributions to the academy, AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella praised The New Education saying that her book “offers compelling insights into the future of American higher education, emphasizing the need to challenge students to address unscripted, real-world problems”.

In The New Education, Cathy 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.

In light of the social turmoil caused by current political events in the country, The New Education’s appeal for a more equitable education (i.e. a more just society) becomes of greater importance. In recent days we have witnessed a live-streamed example of some of the negative consequences of a school culture that cultivates privilege. The truth, though, is that every student has the potential to be extraordinary. That is why, as Cathy Davidson reminds us, we need a new education that “empowers [students] to be leaders of innovation and to be able not only to adapt to a changing world but also to change the world”.

The Ness award will be presented at AAC&U’s Annual Meeting on January 24, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Many congratulations, Cathy!


The Futures Initiative
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