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Who We Are

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Cathy N. Davidson—Founding Director

  Cathy N. Davidson

Cathy N. Davidson, an educational innovator and a distinguished scholar of the history of technology, is an avid proponent of active ways of learning that help students to understand and navigate the radically changed global world in which we now all live, work, and learn. Davidson is Senior Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2019-2020) and Distinguished Professor in English and in the MA Program in Digital Humanities and MS in Data Visualization and Analysis. She is Founding Director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center, CUNY.  She is also the R. F. DeVarney Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University where she served as Duke’s (and the nation’s) first Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies.  She co-directed the CUNY Humanities Alliance, a partnership with LaGuardia Community College, from 2016-2019.

She has published some twenty books including Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in AmericaClosing: The Life and Death of an American Factory, with documentary photographer Bill Bamberger; The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, with David Theo Goldberg; and Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. Her most recent book is The New Education: How We Can Revolutionize Higher Education to Prepare Students for a World in Flux (Basic Books, 2017).

In 2002, Davidson cofounded HASTAC (“Haystack”), Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory, the world’s first and oldest academic social network. She directed the 17,000+ member HASTAC network until 2017 and now co-directs with Professor Jacqueline Wernimont of Dartmouth College. With David Theo Goldberg, she co-directed the Digital Media and Learning Competition supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2006-2017).  She has served on the Board of Directors of Mozilla (2011-2018) and on the National Council of the Humanities as an appointee of President Barack Obama (2011-2017). She is the 2016 recipient of the Ernest J. Boyer Award for Significant Contributions to Higher Education. In 2019 The New Education won the Frederic W. Ness Book Award from the American Association of Colleges and Universities.

Photo credit: Paula Vlodkowsky


Adashima Oyo—Interim Associate Director


 Adashima Oyo is the Interim Associate Director of FI and Director of Programs and Administration at HASTAC. She is a former Futures Initiative Fellow and HASTAC Scholars Director. Prior to pursuing a PhD, Adashima acquired more than 10 years of experience in several director-level positions at various non-profits and social service organizations in New York City. Adashima brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about CUNY. She has worked with students and administrators in various capacities across seven different CUNY schools. Adashima’s undergraduate degree in English and master degree in public health are also from CUNY schools. She is finishing her PhD in the Social Welfare program at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Adashima has many research interests! Her dissertation research explores recruitment and admissions practices for Black and Latinx students at schools of public health in the United States. #BlackScholarsMatter



Lauren Melendez—Undergraduate Leadership Program Director and Administrative Specialist

As Director of the Undergraduate Leadership Program, Melendez directs and oversees a program that brings together 30 undergraduate students from across 12 CUNY campuses as Leadership Fellows. Melendez consults with fellows on how to develop their mentoring and leadership skills in addition to helping them learn how to navigate spaces inside and outside their college campuses. The fellows in turn learn about opportunities within and outside their campuses that will help shape, strengthen and prepare them for not only their academic paths but more importantly their life paths.

In her role as administrative specialist, Melendez provides academic and administrative support to the Futures Initiative. She oversees department operations, manages workshop planning and scheduling, conducts research, and organizes and processes materials for all administrative documentation. Melendez manages the program’s budget and coordinates purchasing, accounting, and payroll for the department.
In addition to her role with the Futures Initiative, Melendez is a graduate student at CUNY’s Hunter College, working toward a Master of Science in Education degree with a concentration in School Counseling. As a School Counselor Trainee and College Advisor, Melendez works with high school students who are primarily persons of color from underrepresented communities within the New York City area at the James Baldwin School in Chelsea.




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