The first day of the conference will cover the relevant history and traditions of universities, move through the current state of play, and focus on the emerging landscape of universities, articulating both their changing role in society, the significant challenges these institutions are facing for the future and, more specifically, their role vis a vis the increasing commons of knowledge facilitated by the Internet. This day will provide intellectual scaffolding for the primary ideas and tracks we seek to explore. The opening keynote, focused on "Universities as Knowledge Institutions", will lay the foundation for integrative plenaries on university responsibilities on day 2. The three track sessions, "Digital Natives", "Information Infrastructure", and "Physical/Spatial Infrastructure", will explore the pressing questions universities face in these areas, and provide the basis for working groups on subsequent days.
Monday, June 28th
2:30p.m. Plenary: Information Infrastructure
In the Information Infrastructure track we will examine the history of academic knowledge dissemination. Until fairly late in the twentieth century universities considered that the widest dissemination of knowledge was central to their mission. Their presses, and the scholarly societies, endeavored to carry out this dissemination as effectively as possible in the print-on-paper age. Things changed in the latter half of that century for two reasons. The Bayh-Dole Act in the US helped to set in train a new way of thinking in universities, encouraging them to perceive the knowledge created within as a possession that could be exploited, upturning centuries of academic values centered around sharing, collegiality and mutual dependence. And commercial companies began to dominate the scholarly publishing arena, attaching commercial values and behaviors to the dissemination of publicly-funded research. Now, with the development of the internet and boosted by a change in general towards the flow of information, the concept of the knowledge commons is again on the table.
Some of the questions the track will address are: Can we reshape academic thinking and values? How can we reposition the university in the centre of the public space? How far has advocacy on Open Access and open licensing reached into academic thinking and practice? Will the Net generation be able to change things rapidly or can established values and norms still maintain the status quo?
Keynote: Alma Swan, Key Perspectives Ltd.
Respondent: Stuart Shieber, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Office of Scholarly Communication at Harvard University
Respondent: Martin Hall, Salford University, UK
Track Leader: Alma Swan
Alma Swan's keynote will provide a ‘state of the art' synopsis of the current position with respect to knowledge sharing, reflecting on progress over the past two decades and drawing a picture of things that might come next. The keynote will be shaped around three main issues: the sharing and dissemination of knowledge; the ownership of knowledge; and ‘joining things up' (infrastructural aspects) to benefit knowledge creation and sharing (on-campus and between-campus systems to enable and encourage these).
4:15p.m. High Order Bit: African Universities as Knowledge Centers: Challenges and Opportunities
Boubakar Barry, African Association of Universities
African universities face many challenges as knowledge centers, both in terms of the dissemination of knowledge they create locally and internationally, as well as challenges related to accessibility to global information and knowledge sources.
African universities are still struggling with adequate and affordable access to bandwidth. While issues related to open access to educational resources and open research are being promoted by several institutions on the continent, including the Association of African Universities, connectivity remains a major bottleneck that, if overcome, can substantially contribute to improving access and quality for teaching, learning and research, e.g. through wide introduction of blended learning and participation in international/global research projects.
4:30p.m. Plenary: Physical/Virtual Spatial Infrastructure
The Spatial Infrastructure track questions the role of the physical and virtual architecture for knowledge creation and dissemination. Should we assume that with teaching becoming increasingly virtual, physical space will be more and more geared towards interpersonal interaction and establishment of credibility? If so, how are we to rethink the physical university space? What is the value of presence? Conversely, how do we envision universities as shared spaces in cyberspace, blurring distinctions between public and private? Will the university be the new interface for young people between the physical and digital? What does it mean in terms of design? How can architecture contribute to the legibility, both practical and symbolic, of this interface? How should the layout of the physical facilities of a university be reflected in its electronic architecture (e.g. relations between physical and digital boundaries, thresholds, etc.)? What becomes of notions like transparency, opacity, inertia, in the context created by the interaction of the physical and the virtual (augmented reality)?
Co-keynote: Antoine Picon, Harvard University
Co-keynote, Jef Huang, EPFL
Track Leader: Jef Huang
Antoine Picon's keynote will provide an overview of the brief history, present the forces at work, and discuss the effects of digitalization on contemporary architecture in general, and on information-intensive typologies (such as universities, museums, libraries) in particular. A particular point of discussion will be why design matters in this convergence of physical and digital infrastructure. While thriving academic communities cannot be designed per se – good communities simply happen or emerge, what can be designed and where the locus for action should be, is the underlying spatial infrastructure, now physical and virtual, for fostering thriving communities.