Eduventures Summit

Eduventures Summit 2024 Preview: How to Meet the Moment

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“The worst year ever for higher education.” That’s the assessment of 2024 by Marlene Tromp, President of Boise State University, on a recent Inside Higher Ed podcast. And it's only May! 

The list of woes is indeed long and unsettling: FAFSA breakdown, campus protests, DEI battles, softening enrollment, stubborn inflation and interest rates, on-off student loan cancellation, regulatory standoffs, and rock-bottom rates of public confidence. AI is going to blow everything up AND make everything perfect! 

Our answer to the “worst year ever” is what is shaping up to be the best-ever Eduventures Summit. In Summit’s 10th year, our stellar line-up of thinkers, leaders, and innovators assembles June 12-14 in Chicago. 

Here’s what’s in store at Eduventures Summit 2024. 

Higher Education, Where Are You? 

If America ever needed the best of higher education, it’s now. Disinterested pursuit of knowledge? Higher education. Society-changing research? Higher education. Skill development and employability? Higher education. Social mobility? Higher education. Civil discourse across cultural divides? Higher education. Productive citizenry? Higher education. Expertise? Higher education.  

But media coverage, public surveys, and lawmaker pronouncements say higher education is floundering on all fronts.  

This is what happens when higher education goes from an elite preserve to a mass participation economic powerhouse in just a couple of generations. Progress and ambition are remarkable, but there is no road map for figuring out what higher education is for and how it should work at this scale: we are making it up as we go along.  

College has always dueled with politics and culture, shaping and being shaped; sometimes losing the fight but always winning the war. Growing, changing.  

This time is no different— we hope.  

If higher education is to win through once again, we must strike a balance between affirming timeless values and embracing new ideas.  

How to Meet the Moment 

At this year’s Summit, we will look at higher education from multiple angles: college preparation, marketing and enrollment drivers, pricing and technology, program innovation, college alternatives, and mission and values. 

Here’s a preview: 

  • Take a Step Back. We open with futurist Byron Reese. Yes, we need to “talk” higher education, but it is imperative to also see ourselves amid larger forces; see decades hence and sort out the next academic year. Byron Reese will interrogate received wisdom, make unexpected connections, and sow seeds of curiosity. Technology has transformed our lives. Is it about to do so again? 

Eduventures Summit will cover traditional-aged undergraduate trends: 

  • New Generation. Dr. Jim Lecinski, Professor of Marketing at Northwestern University’ s Kellogg School of Management and an expert on Generation Alpha, will explore the question: How does Generation Alpha view college? Fast-approaching college age, this latest generation resembles Gen Z in some ways but not in others. Dr. Lecinski’s insights will help colleges speak so tomorrow’s prospective students will hear. 
  • Preparation is Everything. Former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and former U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, knows the politics of education. Now—allied with Chicago’s Emerson Collective—he is championing a new model high school and a novel college prep pathway. Arne Duncan will also—from a safe distance—comment on the latest trends in federal higher education policy. How should colleges influence policy? 

Also, Eduventures Principal Analyst, Kim Reid, will weave together findings on brand identities and student experiences from our latest high school student surveys. 

Coverage of program innovation, non-traditional students, and online learning will also feature at the event: 

  • College vs. Apprenticeships. To what extent should colleges be judged on graduate employment? Cassidy Leventhal, Principal at Achieve Partners, asserts higher education overreach, advocating for massive investment in apprenticeships as a better way to formulate a sizable chunk of postsecondary education. When should colleges compete, partner, or step back?  
  • New Model Degree. Facing push-back on value for money, employability concerns, and a healthcare talent shortage, University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) launched the NXT GEN MED bachelor’s degree, to be completed in 2.5 years with a paid Mayo Clinic internship. Program director Dr. Andrew Petzold will share vision and progress. UMR is also part of the College-in-3 Exchange, developing shorter, cheaper, “AND better” bachelor’s degrees. How has NXT GEN MED fared? 

Yours truly (Richard Garrett) will present on the significance of low-cost online bachelor’s and master’s degrees from prestigious universities. Are these programs a blueprint to unlock demand in a high-inflation, low-unemployment decade? 

Finally, we will have two presentations that use a specific thing (one university, a new technology) to address universal themes and possibilities: 

  • Presidential Leadership. Mid-COVID, President Lori White assumed leadership of DePauw University, a private liberal arts institution in small-town Indiana. An enrollment turnaround and a record gift followed. President White will share what led to these successes, plus her hard-won gains on two topics-of-the-moment: DEI and freedom of expression.  
  • Artificial Higher Education. We will close with a conversation with Dr. George Siemens, Chief Scientist and Architect of SNHU’s Human Systems, who is spearheading an ambitious effort to build cross-institutional AI resources. AI will force higher education leaders to decide what can, what should, and what should not be automated. Dr. Siemens will separate hype from fact, and wild speculation from promising potential. How should institutions focus and operationalize a strategic approach to AI? 

The Bottom Line 

If 2024 turns out to be the “worst year ever” for higher education, we also may look back on this momentous year as the catalyst of new beginnings. It is sometimes only when frictions and tensions in legacy arrangements become unsustainable that green shoots of innovation poke through.  

We look forward to seeing familiar and new faces at Eduventures Summit 2024 and to arresting keynotes and enlightening discussions. Attendees can count on incisive commentary and hard-won insights, not only from our speakers but from the higher education brain trust in the room. 

We still have seats left, but they are going fast. Eduventures and Encoura clients get free passes—reach out to our team if you have questions about registration. See you in Chicago! 

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