14th Annual Reinventing Higher Education conference envisions future of academic institutions

The U statue in the center of Coral Gables campus. Photo credit: Alexandra Fisher

Each year, hundreds of educational leaders and experts from around the world gather to discuss the most pressing topics impacting the global education system. This year, the event will take place at the University of Miami for the 14th annual Reinventing Higher Education conference.

The conference will take place on March 7 and 8 at the Newman Alumni Center on the Coral Gables Campus.

The conference’s theme, “Connecting The Dots,” signifies a reunion of the most important members of higher education around the world to “address the role of universities as global agents of innovation and will explore the need for education systems to be catalysts for positive change in our societies,” according to their website.

IE University of Madrid will be partnering with the University of Miami to host the conference, co-chaired by Julio Frenk, president of the University of Miami, and Santiago Íñiguez, president of IE University.

Frenk also expressed his belief in the importance of the conference.

“Preparing the next generation of university students includes investing more in research and assessment. We must advance the science of learning, and perfect the art of teaching,” Frenk said.

“I look forward to welcoming fellow leaders in higher education to our Coral Gables Campus so that we may engage in critical conversations and reimagine the student experience for an ever-changing world.”

Laura Kohn-Wood, dean of the School of Education and Human Development, who represented the University of Miami at the 2023 Reinventing Higher Education conference, and Kathi Kern, vice provost for educational innovation at the University of Miami, worked closely with Frenk to make the event happen.

“It wasn’t a typical conference in the sense that you had a presenter and then the audience, like a one-way dialogue,” Kohn-Wood said. “It really attempted to create a conversation both with the panels and also engaging the audience.”

Kohn-Wood hopes to bring this same feeling and more to this year’s conference.

“One of the things we’re trying to do this year is introduce what we’re calling provocation pills. These are short 10 to 15-minute sessions, in between the panels, where we highlight some really unique or innovative thing that’s happening in higher education,” Kohn-Wood said. “We have a couple of our university faculty presenting these provocation pills.”

This event serves as an opportunity not just for members of the University of Miami to learn about higher education around the world, but also to share best practices and new developments that they expect to transform the system for new generations of students.

Kohn-Wood believes “Connecting The Dots” is a crucial theme to this year’s conference, especially with rising skepticism of higher education.

“The real question of the conference is how we can connect all of the kinds of things that are happening in higher education. People questioning the value, the introduction of AI and content being readily available on the internet.” Kohn-Wood said. “How can we reinvent what we do in the classroom in higher education to really amplify and allow students to engage with the content in ways that aren’t possible when you’re just googling something on your phone.”