This year, TEDxFurmanU is proud to present a cast of students, teachers, authors, founders and creatives that dedicate their work to redesigning education for the 21st Century. While their stories may differ, these doers and thinkers are united by a common thread - their commitment to lifelong learning and positive change.
A graduate of Furman University, Danny Stillion currently works as a Design Director and Associate Partner at IDEO. IDEO is an international design company that has contributed to the design and development of many standard-setting innovations, including the first mouse (for Apple Computer) and the world's first notebook computer. Danny was drawn to the field of interaction design through his early interests in communication design, time-based media, and how people interact with products and services. Today, he mentors and learns from his colleagues in the context of projects that span various industries including consumer and medical products and services as well as telecommunication offerings.
Over the years, Danny has also worked extensively with a number of leading automotive manufacturers. His passionate work in this particular domain has helped a variety of clients bring innovative, human-centered vehicle interface solutions to market. Danny remains passionate about education as well. He actively serves on several university boards and has taught and coached students from the Royal College of Art (UK), Stanford University, North Carolina State University’s College of Design and the California College of Arts. His award-winning work and perspective have been featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, BusinessWeek,The Atlantic, the Webby Awards, the IDEA Awards, and has resulted in various patent awards.
Christian Long is an educator, school planner, technology expert, educational futurist, and passionate advocate for innovative learning communities. He holds a master’s degree in education, with a concentration in school design, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a BA in English with a certificate of secondary education from Indiana University (Bloomington). Christian was a a Klingenstein Summer Fellow for emerging school leaders at Teachers College, Columbia University and participated in the summer-long Career Discovery Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Christian currently works as Vice President for Cannon Design, supporting its global K-12 and Higher Education practices, while also co-leading the firm’s TheThirdTeacher+ platform. Christian founded Be Playful, a collaborative global design agency focused on the intersection between school planning/design, emerging technology, professional development, and the future trending. Additionally, he is the founder/co-developer of Prototype Design Camp, an innovative design program for young creatives. Christian currently co-leads the “Reimagine-ED” program and its national “Next Chapter” summit looking at the future of K-12 libraries.
Cynthia Lawson is a Brooklyn-based Colombian digital artist, technologist and educator. She has taught university courses and workshops since 1997, in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Japan, and the United States, and currently works full-time at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, where she is Associate Professor. Her published research is in the area of community-engaged design education. Since 2007 she has been an active participant in, and until recently coordinated the university-wide project DEED: Development Through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Design, which has connected over 50 New School students with artisans in Latin America to support craft-based, income-generating opportunities. Lawson has presented at dozens of conferences and venues globally.
Cynthia was recently appointed Associate Provost for Distributed and Global Education at The New School. In this role, she oversees the academic side of The New School’s new global initiatives. As a consultant she has worked with international organizations such as CARE and the World Bank. Lawson has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá) and a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications (ITP) from New York University. She lives in possibly the smallest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Greenwood Heights, and is a founding member of Occupy University.
Elizabeth Long Lingo is Director of the Curb Creative Campus Initiative and Curb Programs in Creative Enterprise and Public Leadership at Vanderbilt, and teaches Innovative Leadership in the newly launched Strategic Design Exec Ed MBA program for hybrid thinkers at Philadelphia University. Elizabeth earned her Ph.D. in the joint program in Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School and Harvard University.
In her research, Elizabeth examines what she calls “nexus work”—how leaders, producers, and change agents manage ambiguity as they negotiate collective creative projects and harness expertise from across disciplines, organizations, and networks. Her research has been published in such top publications as Administrative Science Quarterly, Poetics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Since 2009, Elizabeth has designed and launched the Curb Creative Campus Initiative, developing the nation’s first four-year honors Scholarship program focused on creativity, innovation, and the public good; a proposed minor in creative enterprise and public leadership; the first-of-its kind Creative Practice Boot Camp; and the Vanderbilt Story Booth and Expressive Agility project. Elizabeth consults with colleges and universities as they embark on similar transformation efforts, and to Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits on issues of trust, innovative leadership, and collective creative action.
Alan Webb is a founding member of and participant in the Open Master’s Program, which helps self-directed learners create a transformative and peer-reviewed higher education in small groups that give them support and accountability. He organizes experimental peer-led courses online with P2PU and face-to-face with Citizen Circles, a format of peer-led courses where everyone contributes to teaching instead of one dedicated instructor.
As a facilitator and education designer for hire, Alan has designed curriculum and facilitated programs with leading-edge education projects like UnSchool Adventures, Mycelium School, and work with partners like Hub DC, de universiteit, and Ashoka U. Webb works to build, connect, and grow the open education ecosystem through projects like Educate 20/20 and through speaking and writing on the future of education.
Alan previously worked as a minimalist strategy consultant for startup companies and studied economics and psychology at the University of Virginia, where he launched theCourseForum.com with Jeff Bordogna, which is now the main course evaluation website at UVA.
A native of the Bay Area, Ben Shapiro is currently a graduate student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development studying how the design of space influences learning in schools and universities. Ben most recently worked at the University of Melbourne’s Architecture School with a research team exploring the intersection of education and architecture in conjunction with Australia’s $16 Billion Building Education Revolution. This research included participation in an international design competition, Future Proofing Schools (futureproofingschools.com/), to redefine portable classrooms as 21st century learning spaces.
Ben is the co-founder of Design for America at Vanderbilt. Founded at Northwestern University, Design for America is an award-winning network of interdisciplinary student teams and community members that use design to create local and social impact. DFA has been featured in publications and blogs such as Fast Company, Oprah Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Inc. Magazine, The Huffington Post, Core77 and more. Ben also serves as a teaching and research assistant for DFA faculty advisor David Owens’ Coursera course, Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations, which currently has an enrollment of 33,000 students. Ben earned his B.A. in Architectural Studies at Middlebury College and will be pursuing his PhD beginning in the fall.
David Blake is the founder of Degreed, a free online platform that scores and validates lifelong education from both accredited and non-accredited sources . A 2007 graduate of Brigham Young University, David was most recently a consultant for New Charter University, an accredited private online university founded in 2011 with headquarters in San Francisco, CA. In 2011, David was one of 25 select participants chosen to join the inaugural EdTech Entrepreneurs Lab at Stanford University. The Lab, a joint program of Teach For America and the venture philanthropy firm NewSchools Venture Fund, was launched in collaboration with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. The goal of the EdTech Lab is to address the education achievement gap between students from low and high-income communities.
From 2008 to 2011, David worked as a founding member of Zinch.com, an online social network that connects students with information and opportunities relating to colleges, scholarships, study abroad opportunities, and graduate schools. Through his work, David aims to promote universal access to education, create meaningful indicators of personal educational outcomes and success and enable a measured and meaningful system for lifelong learning.
DeAndrea Nichols is a creative entrepreneur who explores the intersections between design, community development, and social interaction. As founder of CatalystsbyDesign, De achieves this mission by helping organizations harness design in unlocking solutions to issues of social division, community development, and youth engagement.
De co-chairs the Community Arts Initiative and engages research in these topics as a masters candidate for social entrepreneurship at the Brown School of Social Work of Washington University in St. Louis. Since 2009, Nichols has emerged as a speaker and writer on the intersections of design and social change. She contributes to SocialChange.is, Social Earth, and Innovations quarterly journal, and she has spoken on this topic for the Women's Caucus for Art, St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, and Ashoka. De’s works have been supported as a Sappi Ideas that Matters recipient, Enterprise Rent-a-Car Scholar, StartingBloc Fellow, Project M Lab designer, Clinton Global Initiative University student, and Community Arts Training Institute Fellow.
Matthew Abrams is the founder of Mycelium, a 9-month learning lab in Asheville, NC that brings tenacious young innovators together to create social enterprises that inspire positive, profitable and systemic change. Matthew spent 7 years traveling to 40 countries as a photojournalist. As a travel writer, Matthew published pieces within the pages of The New York Times, LA Times and The Boston Globe and publications around the world. Matthew currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Social Entrepreneurship Alliance, New York Chapter and Kleiwerks International.
Matthew earned a Masters Degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management from The SIT Graduate Institute while on the road. Through the many adventurous experiences from his job, Matthew realized the profound need for a new type of education that is hands-on; action based and designed to solve real life problems. This realization led to the creation of Mycelium. The Mycelium School (TMS) is a program for young leaders that desire a condensed, pragmatic and affordable educational model that readies them to be effective leaders, entrepreneurs and human beings. The curriculum of Mycelium is designed to deliver 6 foundational elements needed to succeed in the 21st Century.
Ethan Bodnar is an education designer at Skillshare, a global learning community where you can learn real-world skills from real people. He is a national board member with AIGA, the professional association for design, the author of Creative Grab Bag, published by HOW Books in 2009, and is an Eagle Scout.
Ethan was a designer at Be Playful and a co-developer of Prototype, and has interned at co:lab and Behance. He believes in making a positive impact through design, and has participated in Design Global Change and Project M. His clients have included 826 National, TEDxBloomington, and the Do Lectures.
Ethan graduated from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford last spring and lives in Brooklyn, New York.