Speaker: Ed Jernigan
Suppose you had an opportunity to design a university education from scratch. What do students want? What does society need?
Originally, universities offered what was referred to as a liberal arts education, encompassing the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences. Over the last century there as been a proliferation of ever more specialized undergraduate programs—984 distinct undergraduate majors at a major Canadian university a few years ago. While that has successfully produced generations of highly trained, deep-subject specialists, we are increasingly aware of a shortage of solution integrators, graduates who are able to adapt to changing circumstances, and engage with the complex real world problems that transcend the boundaries of the specializations.
We need to revitalize more well-rounded undergraduate degree options, based on curricula that nurture creativity, critical thinking, integrative thinking, and real world problem solving. We need to move the balance point back toward inter and trans-disciplinary as opposed to highly discipline specific. We need “renaissance" scholars of the 21st century.
We need university graduates who are better positioned to understand their complex world and have the skills to make the difference—to be problem solvers without borders.
My talk is the story of how Knowledge Integration came to be, and why I believe KI is a template for the kind of education students want and society needs.
Ed Jernigan is Professor and the founding director of the Department of Knowledge Integration at the University of Waterloo. He is also a Professor and former chair of Systems Design Engineering. He joined Waterloo in 1976 after completing his BS, MS and PhD degrees at MIT. His research is concerned with perception in the broadest sense, in particular vision and image processing, pattern recognition, non-linear and adaptive systems, and knowledge integration and design. He has developed and taught courses in linear systems and signals, pattern recognition, and image processing at both undergraduate and graduate levels in Systems Design Engineering. Beginning in 2008 he has reinvented himself as a teacher, developing and teaching courses in design thinking and real world problem solving for Knowledge Integration.
He is a dedicated teacher and has been recognized with both the Distinguished Teacher Award of the University of Waterloo and the Teaching Excellence Award for the Faculty of Engineering. Since 1984 he has served as the Program Director for the Shad Valley summer enrichment program, living in residence with 48 high school students during the month of July. In 2004 he created a university wide enrichment program for high school students of exceptional potential, Waterloo Unlimited, which he continues to direct. In September 2008, he launched a new undergraduate degree program, the Bachelor of Knowledge Integration.