The Future of Education Is the Symposium Topic at Kent State Florence June 21-23

Educators from across the globe will convene at Kent State University’s Florence campus June 21-23 for an international symposium where participants will use design innovation principles to create a framework for the future of education.

The symposium, Re-Designing Education to Shape a Better World, will bring together 40 thought leaders from the U.S. and Canada, and countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, at Kent State’s campus in Palazzo, Vittori, Florence, Italy, according to symposium chair Robin Vande Zande, Ph.D., professor of art education at Kent State.

Elizabeth Kenyon, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Services, will also represent Kent State at the symposium.

Symposium participants from a plethora of backgrounds – kindergarten through higher education, administrative, policymaking, nonprofit organizations and museums – will bring together a diversity in viewpoints, backgrounds and culture to create solutions to complex problems in education.

“This initiative could put Kent State in a pivotal position to lead in preparing for substantial changes to education in the next 30 years,” Dr. Vande Zande said.

Participants of the symposium will use the design thinking principles of collaboration and inquiry to create solutions to the education challenges they have identified.

“The format to be used in facilitating the symposium will be a grand design challenge, which is more than an ordinary research question,” said Dr. Vande Zande, who is a specialist in design education and design thinking. “A grand design challenge is a comprehensive and widespread issue that can be addressed through rigorous team work and study, to create potential outcomes that would be global in scale. This symposium has evolved into something different than just a simple conference with presenters and an audience.”

J.R. Campbell, executive director of Kent State’s Design Innovation Initiative, and the Design Innovation team, of which Dr. Vande Zande is a member, are supporting the symposium.

Dr. Vande Zande came up with the idea for the symposium two years ago while teaching at Kent State Florence after attending a small history conference there. She proposed the idea to Fabrizio Ricciardelli, Ph.D., director of Kent State Florence, and it was accepted.

“We’re in the world at a time when education is going to be making a radical change, part of which is because we carry these devices around (mobile phones) in which we can get information at a snap,” Dr. Vande Zande said. “This is coupled with the creation of maker spaces in the United States that are growing in schools and communities where people can tinker, create or make prototypes.”

The 40 participants have been divided into 10 teams, each of whom were sent resources to read a month before the symposium. Team leaders will guide their teams as they identify what topics to examine in regards to redesigning education. On the first day of the symposium, the teams will fine-tune their ideas.

Dr. Ricciardelli will be the first speaker and give a brief history of the Renaissance and the rebirth of different concepts and ideas, including education.

Presenters include education experts such as Stan Burgoyne, head of professional studies at International Baccalaureate, who will discuss “IB Education”; Susan Zwirn, Ed.D., professor at Hofstra University, who will discuss “Neuroscience and Learning”; Deborah Parizek, executive director of the Henry Ford Learning Institute, who will discuss “Equity in Education”; and Nicole Campbell, director of state and local partnerships at XQ Super Schools, who will discuss “Innovation in Education”.

A grand design challenge necessitates that a number of research projects across many disciplines be conducted. Each team will report out on the third day of the symposium and identify research strands. Researchers from numerous countries will conduct studies. Their research will be peer reviewed, before being published in an edited book.

“After the symposium, I will be working with a small team who will take the framework and develop into a broader education plan that can be disseminated,” Dr. Vande Zande said. “We can’t just come up with ideas and say ‘nice thinking with you.’ The edited book and education plan will give us ideas on how to move forward.”

Dr. Vande Zande has been in communication with OECD ( The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) that has written a report on the Future of Education and Skills, as they examine education for the year 2030.