Futures Initiative Annual Report, 2018-2019

As we prepare to begin a new academic year, I am delighted to share the Futures Initiative’s 2018-2019 Annual Report. The task of compiling our program’s work and accomplishments each year is at once daunting, humbling, and deeply gratifying. The creation of this report was a deeply collaborative effort; each fellow contributed a summary for their primary areas of work as well as a listing of their personal and professional accomplishments for the year. In addition, I would like to thank FI Graduate Fellows Christina Katopodis and Jessica Murray for their extensive editorial and design work.

In its fifth year, the Futures Initiative sponsored an array of programs, beginning with several team-taught, interdisciplinary courses. Taught by Graduate Center faculty in partnership with CUNY faculty, these courses were designed to foster goals of diversity, active pedagogy, and public engagement. A series of public programs, “The University Worth Fighting For,” addressed urgent issues in higher education—both the need for public support of higher education and, within higher education, the need to redesign a more relevant, student- and public-serving, sustaining, and engaged form of higher education.

Futures Initiative graduate fellows designed and implemented the events and used a variety of open-source and low-cost tools to extend their reach beyond those able to participate in person. Fellows, for example, webcast and live-tweeted most of our events, made their slides publicly available, and also published event recaps so that others can continue to learn from the discussions. A leadership and peer mentoring program, supported this year by the Graduate Center and CUNY Central Office, trained advanced undergraduates to serve as mentors guiding others through the challenges of life and work.

The CUNY Humanities Alliance, a partnership between Graduate Center programs—including the Futures Initiative—and LaGuardia Community College, focused on training graduate students who are interested in community college teaching careers, thanks to support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This year, the Humanities Alliance team organized a national conference to bring together faculty, students, and administrators from institutions across the country to discuss the value of the humanities in a community college and graduate education context.

Finally, the Futures Initiative continues to co-direct the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (, the world’s first and oldest academic social network. This year, we transitioned to a new national collaborative partner, moving part of HASTAC from Arizona State University to Dartmouth College. This year’s international HASTAC conference took place at the University of British Columbia, on traditional, ancestral, and unceded Musqueam lands, with the theme “Decolonizing Technologies, Reprogramming Education.” The conference centered the voices of Indigenous scholars, performers, and students.

Together, all of these Futures Initiative programs, course offerings, projects, technologies, and networks advance the twin goals of “equity and innovation” in higher education, enabling us to design more equitable futures for all.

Read the full report or see past Annual Reports.

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