The theme of the 2015 UPCEA Mid-Atlantic conference is Franklin Forward: The Key to Professional, Continuing and Online Education, reflecting how continuing, professional, and online education units draw on past traditions and strengths while looking ahead to address current and future problems. The 21st-century landscape for higher education presents new challenges, as we debate the role and importance of higher education in today’s society. The challenges of globalization and of rapidly changing professional and personal demands pose urgent questions: how can we make education affordable and relevant? How can we measure and improve our students’ learning? What program models provide access to a diverse population of students while also promising intellectual rigor and practical applications? And, perhaps most crucially, what roles does professional, continuing, and online education have in 21st-century civic society, where global communication is instantaneous, the economic landscape is evolving, and access and diversity are crucial institutional goals?
The 2015 Mid-Atlantic regional conference provides a forum for continuing, professional, and online units to explore these challenges, learn new solutions, and engage in stimulating discussions with colleagues and peers. The theme Franklin Forward presents a model to address these challenges, one rooted in continuing education’s traditions of community engagement, innovation, and pragmatic approaches to education, while also looking to the future, with progressive models and platforms, innovative curriculum, and active engagement in our communities. Presentations for individuals in front-line, mid-level and senior leadership roles are aligned with UPCEA’s networks. The conference theme also reflects UPCEA’s focus on forward thinking, creating the future in higher education as members experiment and innovate, providing colleges, universities, and institutions with incubators to develop, test, and assess new educational models, platforms, and outcomes. Franklin Forward is inspired specifically by Benjamin Franklin and his role in education, showcasing how his ideas continue to influence lifelong learners and educators today.
The conference will also launch the fourth cohort of the Mid-Atlantic region’s Emerging Leaders Program. This year-long program begins with a pre-conference workshop at the 2015 conference, continues with a year-long collaborative cohort project, and culminates with a presentation at the 2016 Mid-Atlantic conference. These activities provide participants with the opportunity to collaboratively explore the theory and practice of continuing education leadership with peers from across the Mid-Atlantic region. The program is designed to prepare the next generation of the region’s leaders to be Franklin Forward. Interested in joining or learning more about the Emerging Leaders Program? Contact Dawn Coder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s theme Franklin Forward also reflects the ways that Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, the host institution, draw on tradition to move into the future, through innovations in education and research. Benjamin Franklin, Penn’s founder and the inspiration for the conference theme, engaged in public discussions of the role of education in the American colonies, forging a new civic society. He founded the University of Pennsylvania’s forerunner, the Academy, College and Charitable School of Philadelphia, in 1749. Franklin believed firmly in the crucial role of public institutions to provide education and training for Philadelphia’s citizens, as he founded other institutions, including the Library Company (1731) and Pennsylvania Hospital (1751). His tireless curiosity and intellectual rigor found expression in his work as an inventor, with inventions including the bifocals, the lightning rod, the iron furnace stove, and an odometer. Today, Philadelphia’s landscape shows Franklin’s influence over the centuries, with public institutions from the Free Library to the Franklin Institute, from the Academy of Natural Sciences to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, providing residents and visitors with ways to expand their minds, engage with ideas, and learn with others. And while Philadelphia’s cobblestone streets connect us with the past, the research being conducted in the University of Pennsylvania looks to the future. New buildings provide cutting edge facilities for pure and applied research, places for Penn faculty, researchers, staff, and students to collaborate on innovative research, as seen in the recently opened Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, and in areas including the digital humanities, sustainability and environmental studies, and the neural and behavioral sciences. And Penn’s long commitment to service learning, seen in initiatives such as the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, provides students, faculty and staff with opportunities to engage in service learning projects in partnership with community members. Penn provides the perfect setting to explore the qualities embodied in Franklin Forward: progressivism, innovation, engagement in local, regional, national, and international communities, and a commitment to the future built on the foundations of the past.
The 2015 conference theme builds upon its geographic location in historic Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation. The conference will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City, located on the vibrant Avenue of the Arts in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. The hotel is within easy walking distance to many restaurants, shops, museums and historic sites. It is also a short distance to West Philadelphia, the thriving neighborhood of our host institution, the University of Pennsylvania, with many more restaurants, museums and sites to visit.
Join us as we reach our centennial year – the UPCEA Mid Atlantic 2015 Regional Conference is part of our yearlong celebration of reinventing higher education.