Cathy Davidson


First Name

Cathy Davidson

CUNY school(s) where you are a student, faculty, or staff member

The Graduate Center

About you

Cathy N. Davidson is the Founding Director of the Futures Initiative and a Distinguished Professor in the Ph.D. Program in English at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is co-director of the CUNY Humanities Alliance, a program in partnership with LaGuardia Community College, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and dedicated to training graduate students to teach in community colleges.

Davidson is also Director of HASTAC, the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (, the world’s first and oldest academic social network, which she co-founded in 2002. HASTAC has over 15,000 network members “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.” She is co-PI of Digital Media and Learning Competitions, administered by HASTAC and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. These competitions have awarded more than $10 million in grant funding to support nearly one hundred innovative projects operating around the world.

Davidson is a renowned scholar of cultural history and technology, including the history of the book, the history of industrialism and postindustrialism, digital humanities, and the impact of new technologies on culture, cognition, learning, and the workplace. Currently, her scholarship focuses on the future of higher education, including in The New Education: How To Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux (forthcoming, Basic Books, September 2017).

Davidson previously taught at Duke University for more than two decades, where she was the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. From 1998 to 2006, she also served as Duke University’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies, working with faculty and students to design more than seventy pioneering new cross-campus programs, technologies, and institutes.

She has published more than twenty books, including Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America (Oxford University Press, expanded edition, 2004), The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, with David Theo Goldberg (MIT Press, 2010), and Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking, 2011). A frequent speaker and consultant on institutional change at universities, corporations, nonprofits, and other organizations, she writes for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post, and Times Higher Ed, among others.

President Obama appointed her to the National Council on the Humanities (2011-2017). In 2012, Davidson was named the first educator to serve on the board of directors of Mozilla, and, in 2012, she received the Educator of the Year Award (with HASTAC cofounder David Theo Goldberg) from the World Technology Network. She is the 2016 recipient of the Ernest J. Boyer Award for Significant Contributions to Higher Education.