Eduventures Summit 2024: Light + Growth - New Theme, New Format, New Location

Higher education has never been more in need of events like Eduventures Summit, set to be held June 12-14, 2024. The sort of illumination, exposure, debate, and strategic clarity Summit aspires to are vital if college and university leaders are to find their way through today’s market maze.  

Just as higher education leaders are thinking differently—new programs, novel modalities, unorthodox models—we are taking Eduventures Summit in a fresh direction with a new theme, new format, and new location.

Noise + Friction

For years, the evergreen theme of Summit was “Higher Ed Remastered.” But this year feels different. Our new Summit theme “Higher Ed Reimagined” captures our commitment to shine a light on the confusing trends and challenges facing the industry so that we can find new ways to grow as institutions and as leaders. Growth is indicative of, yes, our work to help clients grow enrollment, but even more importantly, how to learn to adapt and not just react, but to discern and build anew.  

We must meet the moment.  

In the past, higher education seemed always to be moving forward. Throughout our nation’s history, the spread of institutions and expansion of enrollment were marks of economic progress and social inclusion. Universities were lauded for scientific advancement and the disinterested pursuit of knowledge. 

Such a sunny view of American higher education’s past is simplistic—the academy has never lacked for controversies over admission, curriculum, and culture—but today’s cacophony of troubles seems unprecedented.  

Population shortfalls, sliding enrollment, soaring marketing costs, doubts about student outcomes, public distrust and polarization, and the championing of college alternatives pose tough questions for all but the most selective institutions. Recent rebounds at the undergraduate level still leave student numbers far short of the pre-pandemic baseline.  

Complementary markets appear either in long-term decline (adult undergraduates), past their peak (master’s programs), or highly uncertain (microcredentials, noncredit). The ruptures in the Online Program Management (OPM) industry point to maturation in even the online market as the COVID tide ebbs away.  

The Supreme Court’s striking down of affirmative action, amid the politicization of DEI efforts, has thrown institutional outreach into disarray.  

Colleges and universities—most dramatically at Penn and Harvard—have been dragged into the culture wars like never before. 

And then AI lurks around every corner. 

The White House, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Education wan to “fix” higher education: 

  • Biden champions mass student loan forgiveness and new Gainful Employment rules, while Trump would tear up accreditation norms and launch a market-busting free online national university.  
  • A crop of congressional bills is grinding toward a new funding compact: more dollars for higher education in return for price guarantees and “skin in the game” on student loans.
  • The latest round of Negotiated Rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Education casts hard-won initiatives such as interstate distance learning reciprocity and Inclusive Access as inimical to student choice and consumer protection. 

Higher education is holding its own. Low cost online degree programs from a handful of leading universities have proven themselves at scale. Direct Admissions is opening new pathways for non-traditional students. Course and program sharing consortia are blossoming. More schools are making internships and other experiential learning integral to the student experience.  

But practice is fragmented, resources constrained, and there is a widening gap between institutional haves and have nots. Even where change is most needed, promising innovations often struggle to transcend boutique status.  

Reimagining a New Tomorrow

How can a higher education conference help leaders make sense of trends, turn choices into strategies, and thrive tomorrow? 

Eduventures Summit is a unique event. Spanning both traditional and nontraditional markets, it offers cutting-edge research on high school students, adult and online learners, graduate school prospects, and the non-degree space. Presidents, provosts, enrollment leaders, online learning leaders, policy heads, company leads, and others come to Summit, ensuring a diversity of viewpoints.  

Where other conferences offer endless parallel sessions, we curate top-notch keynotes and a common experience. Past Summits have punctured the higher ed bubble by combining great higher education speakers with luminaries from other industries, such as filmmaker Ken Burns, civil rights attorney Bryan Stephenson, and humanitarian José Andrés.  

But we cannot stand still. 

Eduventures Summit 2024 marks some exciting changes: 

  • Location: our residence at the Intercontinental in Boston has been a long and happy one, but you, our clients, hail nationwide. We have selected downtown Chicago—and the beautiful Loews Hotel—as a new setting for Eduventures Summit. 
  • More Breakouts: we are doubling down on our signature keynote experience but adding more breakout sessions and opportunities for discussion. Our speakers are always thought-provoking, and we want to give you more time to digest, challenge, and strategize.  
  • Show + Tell: we want to not only tell you about the latest market developments but show you how we can customize those lessons and help your institution take action.  

We are still assembling this year’s roster of speakers, but here is a preview: 

  • Byron Reese, much-feted Futurist, will kick us off in Eduventures Summit style with an original take on what the future holds and how higher education can anticipate, shape, and adapt to that future.  
  • Cassidy Leventhal, Principal at Achieve Partners, one of the nation’s top backers of college alternatives (such as apprenticeships), and an advocate for a rebalancing of postsecondary education away from “college for all.” 
  • George Siemens, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist of Southern New Hampshire University’s Human Systems, a pioneering higher ed-centric effort to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) to learning. George is also spearheading SNHU’s efforts to assemble a higher education consortium dedicated to AI. 

More speakers to be announced.  

Higher education leaders cannot ignore dissenting voices. Calls for more work-ready graduates, more focused and relevant programming, and a greater variety of postsecondary pathways speak to genuine frictions with the status quo. But—in the final analysis—students, parents, employers, officials, and even pundits want higher education to do what no other sector can: challenge norms and politicization, respect yet transcend division, and meet but see beyond the pressing needs of today. 

We look forward to welcoming you to another Eduventures Summit! 

 

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Richard Garrett

Eduventures Chief Research Officer at Encoura
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Join us June 12-14 in Chicago for Eduventures Summit, higher education’s premier thought leadership event. Learn from influential leaders inside and outside higher education who are challenging the status quo to make an impact on today’s world.

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