The annual Critical Issues Symposium will examine “Technology and the Future of Being Human” on September 23-24.
The public is invited to all of the events. Admission is free.
The symposium explores a single topic in-depth through a variety of presentations led by experts from both beyond campus and within the Hope community. This year’s event is exploring the impact of technology on humanity as seen today and as it may look in the future.
The symposium will open with the keynote address “Who Is on Team Human? Programming the Future, with People in Mind” by noted technology and culture expert Douglas Rushkoff on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.
“Thanks to our digital technologies, we have a completely new relationship to time; we live in an always-on ‘now,’ where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything,” Rushkoff explains. “What does this mean for the future of human experience, contemplation and agency? What choices about technology can we make now to promote a human-centered future for our species in an increasingly digital environment?”
Rushkoff is the author of “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” as well as a dozen other bestselling books on media, technology and culture. He also made the television documentaries “Generation Like,” “Merchants of Cool,” “The Persuaders” and “Digital Nation.” Rushkoff graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, received an MFA in directing from California Institute of the Arts, and earned his Ph.D. in new media and digital culture from Utrecht University.
The symposium will continue on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 9 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel with the keynote address “Coming of Age (Digitally): Stress and Multitasking in Everyday College Life” by Gloria Mark, a professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, whose research focuses on studying the impact of digital technology in real-world contexts.
Mark has had more than 100 peer-reviewed publications featured in journals and at top conferences in the fields of human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work. Her work has also appeared in the popular press such as “The New York Times,” the BBC, NPR, “Time” and “The Wall Street Journal.” She received her PhD in psychology from Columbia University.
On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., the discussion will move to the Knickerbocker Theatre, where several presenters will share their insights on technology and humanity through seven “Digital Short Stories,” a new event in the symposium. Members of the faculty including Hope President John Knapp, students and invited guests are part of the quickly moving format, during which speakers are limited to 10 minutes on stage. Among the topics are “Reflection, Reformulation and Re-invention: Digital Storytelling and the Dignity of Dying,” “Self-Deception and Scientism: What Technology Cannot Do For You,” “Technology and the Future of Leadership,” “Using Smartphones to Help Disabled Adults Ride the Bus,” “Faith and Technology in Mumbai, India” and reflections from students who went “unplugged” from technology through a study commissioned for the symposium.
On Wednesday at 1 p.m., six hour-long “Focus Sessions” at locations around campus will address topics including technology and athletics; the results of the “unplugged” study; technology, human nature and values; digital media and servant leadership; the power and peril of constant connectivity; and whether or not technology will evolve a new way of thinking.
On Wednesday at 2:15 p.m., academic departments and other programs at Hope will consider the issue in a way specific to their disciplines. Though designed for Hope students, the events are open to community members. Session sponsors include the arts, biology, computer science, economics and business, modern and classical languages, education, history and the Mellon Scholars, kinesiology, and sociology and social work.
The college’s Critical Issues Symposium, first held in 1980, was established to stimulate serious thinking about current issues, and to provide a forum in which the Holland community, students and faculty may all engage in discussion with experts. The symposium embodies commitment to open inquiry and civil discourse guided by the highest standards of intellectual integrity. Hope cancels classes for a day to provide an opportunity for the event.
Past topics have included “Genocide,” “The Middle East,” “World Hunger,” “The Family,” “Energy,” “Civil Rights,” “The Quest for Justice: Christian Voices,” “Lifeboat Earth: Decisions for Tomorrow,” “The Columbus Legacy, 1492-1992,” “Race and Social Change in America,” “What Future Is in our Genes: Freedom from Disease, Good Investment, Manufactured Humans?,” “Sport and American Life,” “Feminism and Faith: Implications for Life,” “Gold Rush and Ghost Towns: Living with the Internet,” “Earth Matters: Daily Decisions, Environmental Echoes,” “Putting Science in Its Place: Discovery and Responsibility,” “Race and Opportunity: Echoes of Brown v. Board of Education,” “Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America,” “Global Health: From Catastrophe to Cure,” “At Water’s Edge: Complacency, Thirst, Action,” “Good Food for the Common Good,” “Exploring Islam,” and “Reconciliation: Hope in a Divided World.”
Dimnent Memorial Chapel, the venue for the two keynote addresses is located at 277 College Ave., at College Avenue and 12th Street. The Knickerbocker Theatre, the venue for digital short stories, is located at 86 E. Eighth St. in downtown Holland.
Additional information, including the full schedule and locations, is available at hope.edu/cis.