GU Wins Spot at SXSW
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 13:10
Among the musicians, start-up founders and filmmakers at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Tex., this March will see a new panelist: Georgetown.
The annual music, film and interactive technology conference, started in 1987, attracts 32,000 participants to Austin each spring. It is one of the most high-profile festivals in the country each year, with music acts such as Vampire Weekend and Prince performing in previous years.
Georgetown’s panel, “Designing the Future University from the Inside,” will be part of SXSWedu, the education conference within SXSW.
Although representatives from Georgetown have attended SXSWedu since 2011, this will be the first time that Georgetown will actively participate in the conference.
“We were merely audience participants but knew that there was so much going on at Georgetown that we could share,” Program Manager for Innovation & New Media Strategy Michael Wang (MSB ’07) said. “It was like ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice’ — watching these amazing people singing and thinking, ‘Well, we’ve got some singing chops too. Why aren’t we up there?’”
During previous visits, Georgetown representatives were able to learn about new innovations and techniques in the world of education.
“Conversations were happening that we didn’t experience at Georgetown,” Wang said. “People knew that the industry was changing.”
Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis said that the specifics of the panel have not yet been determined, though it will focus on how technology is modernizing higher education. More information will be available in December.
“Our biggest goal is to share with the rest of the community how we’re thinking about the digital campus for the future and what we’re doing on campus to spark innovation and new ideas for teaching, learning and research,” Davis said.
To be chosen, the university had to send in a written proposal that provided an overview of the panel’s topic. After an initial screening process, the university’s proposal was tested through the SXSW PanelPicker, which collects data through social media to account for 30 percent of the final decision. SXSW advisory boards and staff also judged applicants. Despite his excitement for the panel, Wang admitted that the conference, with its focus on the importance of technology within education, will likely be uncomfortable for Georgetown.
“It’s something we’re not used to. It’s a ton of ed tech entrepreneurs talking about how they’re going to unravel education and how there’s going to be 10 universities left in 20 years. It’s not the ground we’re used to being on,” Wang said. “But it’s important for us to move forward as a university and to be smart and nimble and innovative about where we need to go.”
But in some ways, Georgetown’s tradition will serve as an asset.
“Georgetown University has a history of being a convener of thought-leaders around complex and tough questions. This is what we will strive to contribute at SXSW,” Wang said. “We hope to be a leader in convening deeper conversations between universities and thought-leaders on the future of higher education.”