Anant Agarwal, MIT professor and founder of edX, discussed "Reinventing Education" at Dyson Day Conference

Attention: Your Greek mythology professor has left the building. You can find her lecturing on Olympian gods at Starbucks, or on your iPad at the kitchen table, or anywhere an internet connection is available. Today, liberal arts education stands at a crossroads and faces new challenges; among them is finding the flexibility to deal with quantum advances in technology that have transformed the ways in which knowledge is created, taught and learned. Other challenges include the phenomena of massive open online courses (MOOCs), courses offered free of charge, which present unique financial challenges and questions of academic integrity to traditional liberal arts institutions. And, ironically, as free online courses proliferate, the general public continues to question the value of a liberal arts education on the whole. This year’s Dyson Day conference was a thought-provoking exploration of these challenges.

The conference, which took place on April 12 at Pace’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts on the New York City campus, focused on the theme of Addressing Critical Challenges for the Liberal Arts College. The audience, comprised of faculty from Pace University and other area colleges and universities, welcomed keynote speaker Anant Agarwal and his timely presentation, “Reinventing Education.”  Dr. Agarwal, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is president and founder of edX, a pioneering online learning venture making online education a possibility for millions of students worldwide. He taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics from MIT, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries, making online education a possibility for millions of students worldwide. The results of this program, and other similar projects taking place around the globe, have the potential to revolutionize the landscape of higher education in the immediate future.

The day-long conference also featured a conversation between Dr. Agarwal and Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman; a roundtable on the Disruptions and Innovations in Higher Education; and seven breakout sessions on topics ranging from the Socratic Method of teaching to the emergent trend of digital portfolio use in the publishing marketplace.

Presenters, faculty and attendees continued the exchange of ideas at the Dyson Day closing reception held at the new Pace Performing Arts building at 140 William Street, New York City.

Dyson Day is an annual conference that provides Dyson College faculty with an opportunity to exchange ideas, present innovative models and establish a dialogue between academicians and professionals from the fields of the arts and the sciences. It is also a showcase of best practices. The conference also serves to enrich and affirm the sense of community among the faculty of Dyson College, the university’s largest.