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Imagining our digital future

Principal’s symposium explores the intersection of ‘the human’ and ‘the digital’.

Thought leaders and community members from across disciplines and borders will gather at Queen’s University on Monday, Nov. 26 for the Principal’s Symposium, a discussion on the future of research, knowledge sharing, and the student learning experience in the digital age.

Titled Imagining Our Digital Future, the symposium will feature engaging talks and discussions exploring the intersection of the human and digital realms through social, technological, and cultural lenses. Nora Young, creator and host of CBC Radio’s Spark – a show examining how technology, innovation, and design affects our lives – will facilitate the day’s events.

“Throughout its long history, Queen’s has excelled at building communities that push the boundaries of knowledge,” says Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “As technology changes the way we learn and interact, building new connections and collaborations through digital innovation will help form the foundation of an open, data-rich, yet still human-centred future.”

Keynote speaker John Willinsky, Khosla Family Professor of Education at Stanford University, will lead off the symposium with thoughts on how the history of learning can help guide us in advancing learning in the digital age. Following his talk, a panel of experts from Africa, Japan, and Latin America will provide perspectives on what the equitable sharing of digital information means to their regions.

In the afternoon, keynote speaker Alexander Dirksen, Program Director of the Community Knowledge Exchange, will engage in a conversation with Kanonhysonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal of Indigenous Initiatives, on decolonizing digital spaces. As the future is shaped, in part through the lines of code that power platforms and services we rely upon in our daily lives, conversations about inclusivity, safety, and equity in digital spaces have become increasingly important. This session will critically examine how our relationship to technology and digital planning can elevate Indigenous voices and perspectives, and advance our collective responsibility to reconciliation.

Throughout the day, participants will hear about digital advances in learning and research across the disciplines at Queen’s. A panel on artificial intelligence, data analytics, and data governance will discuss the breadth of opportunities emerging through technological innovation, as well as the ethical and social considerations that go hand-in-hand with their development. A lightning talk panel will highlight how digital transformation is changing expectations for both how we learn and what we learn. In another lightning talk panel, members of the Queen’s community will highlight how their research interests rely upon, and influence, digital innovation.

As a bookend to the global perspectives at the start of the day, the symposium concludes with a look at what all of this means for the communities where we live and work. The Mayor of Kingston, Bryan Paterson, will comment on Kingston’s interests in using emerging technologies and innovations to develop a smart, liveable 21st century city.

The Principal’s Symposium is one element of a university-wide digital planning initiative that began with a series of discussion groups held with the campus community. The first phase of planning aimed to stimulate conversations across campus about the principles, processes, and priorities that will inform Queen’s Digital Planning Framework 2018-19 to 2019-20. Later phases of planning will develop a full digital strategy as part of the university’s strategic framework.

The symposium will further engage participants in imagining an exciting digital future of big ideas and niche solutions, emerging technologies, and creative economies, as well as engaged communities, and global collaborations.

A virtual exhibit titled Imagining our Digital Future complements the symposium, highlighting some of the interesting digital initiatives already taking place at Queen’s University. Examples range from research advances in digital technologies that are impacting our daily human lives, to previously unimaginable learning and research opportunities across the disciplines.

Is there a digital initiative you would like to see included in the virtual exhibit? Email the Digital Planning Project Group with your ideas.