Notes on Conference Structurehide

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.

The second day will attempt cross-sectional reorientation, by examining universities’ emerging responsibilities as ‘horizontal’ themes, especially as they intersect with future challenges described in the first day’s ‘vertical’ tracks.  The day will begin with interactive breakout sessions exploring each of the priority areas (or verticals) covered the previous day. The balance of the day would concentrate on “the Civic Role of Universities” (Universities as Civic Actors or Institutions), “Educating Students” (Universities as Platforms for Learning), and Research (Universities as Knowledge Creators). These plenary sessions will serve to contextualize the tracks within broader institutional roles, offering provocations and driving us toward innovative and holistic responses.

The third day will consciously combine the three tracks and the cross-sectional issues with an orientation towards solutions and next steps. The day begins with a high level keynote intended to inform, provoke and energize the participants for the integration of the substance and the generation of actionable insights. This will be accomplished in the final working session of the tracks and in the final roundtable session envisioning potential futures. It may result in the creation of a declaration or some other tangible output.

Download the program as a PDF

Monday, June 28th ^^ top ^^

8:30a.m.     Registration - Aula Magna at the Politecnico di Torino

9:30a.m.     Welcome Address

Kick-off: COMMUNIA and Universities [Video]

Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, in conversation with Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

10:30a.m.    Keynote: Universities in the Age of the Internet [Video]

Stefano Rodotà, University of Rome

11:15a.m.    Coffee Break

11:45a.m.    High Order Bit: “Arduino, Open Source Hardware and Learning by Doing” [Video] [Materials]

Massimo Banzi,,

The Arduino Project: the shared, bottom-up innovation leads to new global hardware standard and to new ways of producing and sharing knowledge. Massimo Banzi, co-founder of Arduino, will briefly present the project.

12:00p.m.    Plenary: Digital Natives [Video]

The Digital Natives track will introduce the perspective of a generation of students “born digital.” Key questions for this track will include: How have – and will – digital technologies affect learning? What are the implications of these shifts for the understanding of universities and their activities, including teaching and research? How will universities respond to and support new forms of knowledge creation and sharing among young people? What are the implications for curriculum building? What is the future of blended learning in light of Digital Natives’ usage patterns? How will universities deal with varied levels of media literacy among students, how can we address new types of participation gaps that emerge in the digital age?

Keynote: John Palfrey, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Respondent: Marco de Rossi,

Track Leader: Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

After brief reflections on the history, John Palfrey’s keynote will focus on the characteristics of Digital Natives – how they relate to information, how they communicate with each other, and how they acquire and exchange knowledge – in order to identify the key questions from a university perspective associated with the information and communication habits of young people as we transition into a fully digitally networked environment. Marco De Rossi, who founded as a teenager the educational project, will serve as respondent and will provide reflections on Professor Palfrey’s keynote.

1:15p.m.      Lunch

2:30p.m.      Plenary: Information Infrastructure [Video]

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).

3:45p.m.     Coffee Break

4:15p.m.     High Order Bit: African Universities as Knowledge Centers: Challenges and Opportunities [Materials]

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.

5:45p.m.     Reflections and Next Steps

6:15p.m.     End

8:00p.m.     Food for Thought Dinners

Information and registration regarding Food for Thought Dinners can be found on the main conference wiki:


Tuesday, June 29th ^^ top ^^

9:30a.m.     Concurrent Breakout Sessions

In these breakouts sessions, we will discuss the questions identified by keynoters and respondents on the first day of the conference and seek to map both challenges and opportunities. The breakout session will also be used to get a sense whether there is a shared understanding of the types of challenges and opportunities that universities face – and about their priorities. These breakout sessions serve as a bridge between the present and the future by introducing some case studies and examples from practice that address some of the challenges and opportunities identified on day 1.

Track 1: Digital Natives – Challenges and Opportunities

Moderator: Colin Maclay, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Sandra Cortesi, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Ximena Lopez, Università Roma Tre, Italy

Track 2: Information Infrastructure

Gian Piero Pescarmona, University of Turin

Dalit Ken-Dror, Haifa Center for Law and Technology, Haifa University

Kim Dulin, Harvard Law School Library

Janneke Adema, Coventry University

Track 3: Physical/Virtual Spatial Infrastructure

Delia Browne, Peer-2-Peer University

Giovanni de Niederhausen, Carlo Ratti Architects

Jan-Christoph Zoels, Experientia

10:45a.m.    Coffee Break

11:15a.m.    High Order Bit: “Individual and social evolution: through digital gaming, out of the box” [Video] [Materials]

Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester

Play and games can significantly contribute to the expansion and evolution of individuals and societies. So much so that cultures are, in fact, born in and through play. At present, the pervasiveness and richness of digital gaming has enormously amplified the impact of play and games on both individual and societal development, transcending the boundaries, the “boxes” of the “real” world. The presentation will focus on the nature of games, gamers and gaming societies in the digital age, and the importance of understanding them in order to channel game-based evolution towards positive outcomes.

11:30a.m.    Plenary: Universities as Civic Actors or Institutions [Video] [The University as a Matter of Public Concern (PDF)]

In recent years society has been asking universities to do more than simply - albeit crucially - educate young students and produce new academic knowledge. The list of new demands include life-long education, open access to scientific papers and educational resources, and encouragement and support for spin-offs and start-ups. But is that it? Of course not. Public education, at all levels, was born with a clear mandate to educate citizens and to increase social mobility, not simply provide students with marketable skills and bookshelves with new scientific journals. Moreover, in our age the increasingly complex problems that we are facing as society, from global warming to water supplies, from the environment to energy issues, from the challenges (and opportunities) presented by bio-genetics and nanotechnology, don't call for a renewal of the concept of University as Public Institution? In other words, don't universities - as institutions as well as through their individual researchers - have a duty to engage more frequently in the public sphere, offering their super partes skills and knowledge at the service of citizens - and their representative - to allow them to properly deliberate? If so, how? What would be appropriate and what would, instead, constitute a deontological breach of professorial decorum and integrity? If it is indeed important, shouldn't universities allow/favor internal organizational changes to better implement such social role? How is that social role linked to freedom of research ? Is the growing need of universities in many countries to court potential private investors (or governments) affecting it? If so, what could the consequences be for our societies? Doesn't the Internet offer extraordinary tools to empower the public sphere presence of universities, professors and students, and to help to reduce social and cultural divides?

This session - organized in collaboration with Biennale Democrazia - will explore these and related issues, to define if and how universities could be considered - and should accordingly act - as civic actors in the networked age.

Marco Santambrogio, University of Parma, Italy

Colin Maclay, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Maarten Simons, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Jan Masschelein, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Session leader: Juan Carlos De Martin

12:45p.m.     Lunch

2:15p.m.      Plenary: Universities as Platforms for Learning [Video]

For centuries, college student were educated by listening to their professor read aloud selected books taken from the university library ("lesson" comes, in fact, from "lectio", Latin for "reading session"). Gutenberg changed that by making books cheaper and therefore more amenable to individual ownership and private reading, but the typical university lesson ended up not changing much anyway. Thanks to technology, we are now experiencing, at least potentially, a Renaissance of learning methods: from ebooks to podcasts, from virtual worlds classrooms to streaming, from computer-assisted learning to videogames, the avenues of learning have increased dramatically. Are we heading towards purely technology-mediated learning strategies? Is the old Socratic professor-student direct approach completely obsolete? Doesn't the wider spectrum of approaches offer the opportunity to educate those students who have always been uncomfortable with the traditional approach? What about the impact on lifelong learning ? This session will explore how the future of learning in the age of the Net will look like.

Catharina Maracke, Keio University, Japan

Marco De Rossi,

Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester

Delia Browne, Peer-2-Peer University

Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD

Session Leader: Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal

3:30p.m.     Coffee Break

4:00p.m.     High Order Bit [Video]

Joi Ito, Creative Commons

4:15p.m.      Plenary: Universities as Knowledge Creators [Video]

This session will seek to address questions around trends towards commercialization of knowledge at universities and knowledge institutions, and the impact those trends have on knowledge generation. Additionally, the discussion will address the tension between the growing specialization of research activities and the aspiration towards increased interdisciplinarity.

Carlo Olmo, Politecnico di Torino

Phillippe Aigrain, Sopinspace

Janneke Adema, Coventry University

Mary Lee Kennedy, Harvard Business School

Session Leader: Terry Fisher, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

5:30p.m.      In search of the public domain [Video]

Since late 2007 COMMUNIA, the European thematic network on the digital public domain (, a project funded by the European Union, has been bringing together key stakeholders throughout the Continent (and beyond) to explore and highlight the role of the public domain in our economy, culture and society. Engineers, economists, librarians, activists, law professors, sociologists, policy makers and many others have met approximately every three months in different parts of Europe to collectively produce an impressive amount of knowledge, case studies and facts about the digital public domain, most of it freely available online. Now a few key players are ready to share their experience and hindsight, offering both a summary of the main results of the project and a well articulated vision of how a healthy public domain - healthy also due to the contribution of universities - could tangibly enrich our lives.

Lucie Guibault, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam

Patrick Peiffer, Luxcommons

Jonathan Gray, Open Knowledge Foundation

Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey

Ignasi Labastida, University of Barcelona

Philippe Aigrain, Sopinspace

Paolo Lanteri, WIPO

6:30p.m.     End

8:00p.m.     Reception: Castello del Valentino (Registered attendees only)

Wednesday, June 30th ^^ top ^^

9:30a.m.      High Order Bit: “Why Academia Needs to Rediscover the Commons” [Video]

David Bollier,

Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal (presented in place of David

Academia has long functioned as a commons based on openness, sharing and collaboration. In recent decades, however, universities have expanded their use of copyright and patent law to privatize knowledge; invited corporate partnerships that skew research priorities and impose secrecy; and entered into licensing deals that deliver captive audiences of students to marketers. If universities are truly going to serve the public and reap the benefits of digital technologies, they must rediscover the commons as a moral vision, system of governance and framework for managing knowledge.

9:45a.m.      High Level Keynote: "Digital Culture, Network Culture, and What Comes Afterward"[Video] [Text]

Bruce Sterling

A speculation about what happens when the old idea of "media" as a fixed channel goes away and is replaced by cloudy ideas of "ubiquity" and "augmented reality."

11:00a.m.     Coffee Break

11:30a.m.     High Order Bit: “From Elites, To Masses: Drivers of Excellence in Communication, And Participation” [Video] [Materials]

David Orban, Humanity+ & Singularity University

Access to the best teachers, the best courses is a given these days of online video, and communities. The silos of specialization have lost their advantage in opposition to interdisciplinary approaches. Breadth first wins over depth first exploration of connections, and opportunities. The combinatorial explosion of interesting possibilities makes it impossible to resist talking, shouting about them in all possible occasions!

11:45a.m.     Public universities, public education: From the Bologna Process to Cyberspace [Videos]

How are universities coping with their public function of education and research? What in terms of social dimension, equitable access and completion, lifelong learning, mobility, funding, international openness?

Ten years after the Bologna Process, the boundaries universities ought to be able to bypass have become wider: cyberspaces and not any longer spaces are now the set of connections, mobility, accessibility. Students discuss on the state of art of the public domain and on the right of a free culture, in a manifesto of ideas and perceptions on the public role and responsibility of high academic institutions on that.

Session Chair: Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino

12:30p.m.    Lunch

2:00p.m.     Concurrent Breakout Sessions

These breakout sessions will re-visit the issues identified on the previous days of the conference. They seek to look into the future and map emerging issues, topics, and options.

Track 1: Digital Natives

Track 2: Information Infrastructure

Track 3: Physical/Spatial Infrastructure – Design of Future Universities

3:15p.m.      Coffee Break

3:45p.m.      Final Session: Synthesis and Proposals [Video]

Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD

Francesco Profumo, Rector Politecnico di Torino

Mario Calabresi, La Stampa

Herbert Burkert, University of St. Gallen

Jafar Javan, UN Staff College

Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino

Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey

Moderators: Juan Carlos De Martin & Urs Gasser

5:30p.m.     End