The Republic of Letters: Groundbreak 2020 | A Virtual Conference for Education Leaders hosted By Harappa Education & Ashoka University

New Delhi: Harappa Institution (an online learning institution) and Ashoka University (India’s premier liberal arts institution) have partnered to create a virtual conference for education leaders—The Republic of Letters: Groundbreak 2020. The 3-day conference commenced on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 with an inaugural keynote by Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder & Chairman, Harappa Education.

In the 17th century, a community of scholars and scientists came together in Europe and the Americas to facilitate the dissemination of ideas. Known as the Republic of Letters, the group worked long-distance to stimulate critical thinking in all areas of learning. In 2020, Harappa and Ashoka are bringing together higher education leaders from across the world to reimagine a new world of learning in India.

India’s higher education system consists of 1000+ universities and 20,000+ colleges that impact the lives of over 35 million students. The sheer scale of this sector is massive, and yet it was brought to a standstill overnight. Both institutions believe that the pandemic, however disruptive, has thrown up an opportunity for us to reimagine and redesign the future of how we teach and learn.

The conference will hear from top global experts like:

Dr Rick Levin – Former President, Yale University; Former Ceo, Coursera
Professor DP Singh – Chairman, University Grants Commission
Dr. Subra Suresh – President, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Dr. Deborah Prentice – Provost, Princeton University
Prof Anil Sahasrabudhe – Chairman, All India Council For Technical Education
Dr. Pardis Mahdavi – Dean Of Social Sciences, Director Of School For Social Transformation, Arizona State University
Professor Bharat Anand – Vice-provost For Advances In Learning, Harvard University
Ben Nelson – Founder & CEO, Minerva Project
Professor Srikant Datar – Senior Associate, Dean Of University Affairs, Harvard Business School

Each day is divided into 3 tracks:

Transitioning to Digital: This track will focus on how digital technologies can enhance learning in ways that the physical classroom cannot.
The Resilient Institution: This track will address the main administrative and governance-related questions that are plaguing all our higher education leaders.
Leading from the Front (invite-only): The pandemic has challenged leaders of institutions as never before. This track is an opportunity to share what has worked, what hasn’t, and to discuss what it will take to navigate and beat the looming uncertainty.

The virtual conference will take place from 4pm – 7.30 pm, June 24 – June 26, 2020 on Zoom. While track 3 is by invitation-only, all tracks will be live-streamed on Harappa’s social media channels. Register here:

Day 1 Highlights:

Harappa Education’s Founder & Chairman, Pramath Raj Sinha in his inaugural keynote shared, “we hope (this) will become an annual event, we would love the best minds to come together and redefine the way we teach and learn”.
“Pedagogy has to be transformational and immersive. Once we have mastered the tools, we must ask: is pedagogy really changing?” said Malabika Sarkar, Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University.
On building resilient institutions Vivienne Stern, Director, Universities UK International, London, said, “Crises give you an opportunity to do things that you thought were impossible”.
“We have an opportunity to remake, not rebuild, but remake Higher Education. It is up to us” said Francisco Marmolejo, Education Advisor, Qatar Foundation for Education.
Also heard from Professor Suranjan Das, Vice-Chancellor, Jadavpur University, Kolkata”, Universities need to promote education as enlightenment and not indoctrination”.
“Traditionalists need to change the mindset that online is an inferior form of education” said Professor Srikant Datar, Senior Associate Dean of University Affairs, Harvard Business School
Dr. Pardis Mahdavi, Dean, Social Sciences and Director, School for Social Transformation, Arizona State University said in her keynote, “With the ongoing crisis, students are entering fight-or-flight mode. As leaders of higher education, we have empower them to become strong and resilient.”

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