Digitalisation and the Future of Higher Education

CIVICA Conference: Digitalisation and the Future of Higher Education

Emerging trends shaping education in the post-COVID world

3 June, 5:15-6:45pm CET
Online via Zoom

Event outputs

  • playlist with further contributions from the CIVICA network
  • audience inputs (via Mentimeter)
  • video recording - watch below:

In our technology-driven world, digital tools have profoundly transformed the realm of education. Higher education institutions in particular have witnessed first-hand an accelerated transition to online practices and virtual communities. Our experience within CIVICA has certainly shown how a university alliance with European reach can foster agility and innovation at a time like this. In the post-COVID world, the digital experiment might lead us towards a new norm.

How can we build on current innovations to pave the way for more resilient, sustainable and adaptable approaches to education in the post-COVID world? What are some of the challenges of digitalisation in education and how can we overcome them? How can the European Universities collaborate with policymakers, businesses and society at large on the digital transformation? 
In this online CIVICA dissemination conference, policymakers, theorists, practitioners and students will come together to reflect on the impact of the digital transformation on the present and future of universities. Drawing on experiences with digitalisation in academia at local, national or European level, participants will explore the potential of recent innovations to advance education and discuss concrete steps to implement this vision. 

The conference is open to the entire CIVICA community and the public at large. The audience will have the opportunity to engage in the debate.

Follow the conference on Twitter: #CIVICAconference

Download the conference flyer>>


  • Isidro Laso Ballesteros, Cabinet Expert, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture and Youth – European Commission (keynote)
  • Mark Hallerberg, Acting President, Hertie School
  • Vanessa Scherrer, Vice President for International Affairs, Sciences Po
  • Anke Hassel, Professor of Public Policy, Hertie School
  • Dilly Fung, Pro-Director for Education, London School of Economics
  • Hilda Hardell, third-year bachelor student, Stockholm School of Economics
  • Leonardo Caporarello, Professor of Practice of Organizational Behavior, Delegate Rector for E-Learning, Director of BUILT Center for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, Bocconi University
  • Remus Pricopie, Rector, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Romania (SNSPA)
  • Chair: Annika Zorn, Director of PhD Programmes & Digital Learning, Hertie School

With video contributions from:

  • Adrian Curaj, Professor and Head of the UNESCO Chair on Science and Innovation Policies, SNSPA
  • Anna Prisca Lohse, PhD candidate, Hertie School
  • Aurélie Villanueva, PhD researcher, European University Institute
  • Elena Schulz-Ruhtenberg, master's student, Sciences Po
  • Liviu Matei, Provost and Professor of Higher Education Policy, Central European University
  • Magnus Mähring, Erling Persson Professor of Entrepreneurship and Digital Innovation, Stockholm School of Economics
  • Paul Apostolidis, Associate Professorial Lecturer and Deputy Head of Department for Education, LSE
  • Stefano Caselli, Dean for International Affairs and Full Professor, Bocconi University


  • Welcome by Mark Hallerberg
  • Presentation of CIVICA by Vanessa Scherrer
  • Keynote by Isidro Laso Ballesteros
  • Moderated panel discussion with Anke Hassel, Dilly Fung, Hilda Hardell, Leonardo Caporarello, Remus Pricopie, with audience interaction
  • The conference is chaired by Annika Zorn


Isidro Laso Ballesteros is the Cabinet Expert of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture and Youth at the European Commission. He has been a senior official at the European Commission since 2001, with responsibilities such as Head of Startup Europe for nine years, and Deputy Head of Innovation Ecosystems at the European Innovation Council. From 2015 to 2019, he was nominated “Thought Leader at United Nations ITU Agency”. He is member of several advisory boards to international networks of startups. He combines his professional activities with academic roles, such as Cambridge University CSAP Continuing Fellow, and visiting lecturer at CEPADE (Universidad Politecnica de Madrid). He has written books and papers that are included as citations by hundreds of academics. Before moving into the public sector, he set up two innovative SMEs on software business and served in various roles at large corporations. He studied engineering at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid.

Mark Hallerberg is the Acting President of the Hertie School and Professor of Public Management and Political Economy. From 2013 to 2018 Prof. Hallerberg served as MPP Director, from 2015 to 2018 as MIA Director, from 2017 to 2018 as Dean, and from 2018 to 2021 Dean of Research and Faculty. From September 2020 to February 2021 he was Deputy President of the Hertie School. His research focuses on fiscal governance, tax competition, financial crises, and European Union politics. He previously held academic positions at Emory University, where he maintains an affiliation with the political science department, as well as at the University of Pittsburgh and Georgia Institute of Technology. He has advised, among others, Ernst and Young Poland, the European Central Bank, the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. He received his PhD from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1995. 

Vanessa Scherrer is the Vice President for International Affairs of Sciences Po. From 2010 to 2017 Dr. Scherrer served as the founding Executive Director and Vice Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po. Before joining Sciences Po, she spent a decade at Columbia University, New York, where she was the Director of the Alliance Program at Columbia University, and a visiting professor at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Her research interests include political behaviour, political socialisation processes and experimental methodology. At Columbia University and now at Sciences Po, Vanessa Scherrer has taught on research design and qualitative methods, public opinion and European politics, and American government. She is the recipient of several academic scholarships, including the first doctoral scholarship of excellence jointly offered by Sciences Po and Columbia University in 2001, and has served on the board of ExpoFrance 2025 and in the committee of the French American Foundation.


Anke Hassel is Professor of Public Policy at the Hertie School. From 2016 to 2019 she was the Scientific Director of the WSI at the Hans Böckler Foundation. Anke Hassel has extensive international experience and scientific expertise in the fields of the labour market, social partnership, codetermination and the comparative political economy of developed industrial nations. She was an expert in the fact-finding committee on growth, prosperity and quality of life in the German Bundestag (2012-13); the expert commission on the future of the Hans Böckler Foundation (2015-17) and chairwoman of the expert group on Workers' Voice and Good Corporate Governance in Transnational Companies in Europe (2015-2018). She has also been a member of the German Federal Government's High-Tech Forum since January 2019. In Spring 2021, Anke Hassel teaches the CIVICA joint master's course Welfare States in Transition together with Bruno Palier (Sciences Po).

Dilly Fung is LSE Pro-Director for Education since July 2018 and Professor in Practice at the LSE School of Public Policy. Drawing on her interdisciplinary roots in English, Politics and Philosophy of Education and on her long teaching career, Dilly Fung’s academic work analyses connections between research, learning, student agency, policy (including rewarding educators in higher education) and leadership. In her previous role as Professor of Higher Education Development at UCL, she introduced a new focus on building more imaginative synergies between research and student education. Her recent open access monograph, A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education, explores the unity of research and teaching in theory and in practice. Connected Curriculum has become well known nationally and internationally, influencing policy and practice in many countries. She speaks regularly about these themes in the UK and internationally. In CIVICA, Dilly Fung has been part of the cross-campus team developing the CIVICA Engage Track.

Hilda Hardell is a third-year BSc student at the Stockholm School of Economics. Next semester she will go on to study in a master’s programme at the same institution. Since January 2020, Hilda has been an active member of the CIVICA task force at SSE, with a special focus on the undergraduate work package. Additionally, she has engaged in and contributed her perspective to other work packages across the alliance. At SSE, Hilda is currently developing a better foundation for CIVICA within the university’s student union, in order to improve the integration of students and the support for bottom-up projects. Before CIVICA, Hilda worked full time for the SSE student union. Her main responsibility was to safeguard and represent the students' educational interest and to contribute a student perspective to decision-making processes at SSE.

Leonardo Caporarello is Professor of Practice of Organizational Behavior and Deputy Dean of Lifelong Learning at SDA Bocconi School of Management, and Delegate Rector for E-Learning and Director of BUILT Center for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, Bocconi University. He was a Visiting Professor at the Keio University (Japan), Fudan University (China), and a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University (USA). One of his main activities is to design effective onsite, online or blended learning experiences. Caporarello publishes regularly in national and international outlets on topics connected to technology-mediated learning. He is a reviewer for major international conferences and journals, including ECIS, ItAIS, ICIS, the Journal of eLearning and Knowledge Society. Among his awards and achievements, Caporarello was selected in the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on EdTech in 2020.

Remus Pricopie is Professor and Rector of the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest since March 2012. From December 2012 to December 2014 he served as the Minister of National Education, following various other roles within the Romanian Ministry. He has worked extensively with international organisations (UNESCO, UNICEF, EU, OECD, World Bank, United Nation University, Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie) and ministries of (higher) education and research from more than 100 countries. His educational background includes a rich international experience, being educated and trained in five countries and nine higher education institutions, especially in the USA and in the EU. Pricopie is President of the Board of the Romanian – US Fulbright Commission, Vice-president of the International Association of Universities, and President of the EU – Latin America and Caribbean Permanent Academic Forum.


Annika Zorn is the Director of PhD Programmes and Digital Learning at the Hertie School. Previously, she worked at the European University Institute (EUI) and was responsible for the academic and professional development programme for early-stage researchers. Before that, she was the Executive Director of the Florence School of Banking and Finance and Deputy Director at the Florence School of Regulation, both at the Robert Schuman Centre at the EUI. She is also the founder of an online school bridging academic thinking and the world of practitioners in the area of energy and climate. Her areas of expertise are in early-stage researcher’s development, digital strategies in higher education, as well as teaching and learning. She is the editor of the book Higher Education in the Digital Age. Moving Academia Online (Edward Elgar, 2018). She received her PhD from the European University Institute.

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Notice: Video & audio will be recorded during the entire event and made available, partly or in full, on the channels of CIVICA, its member institutions, and partners. By joining the event, you automatically consent to the recording. If you do not consent to being recorded, please discuss your concerns with the event's host.  

We will use Zoom to host this online event. By participating and logging-in via Zoom, participants acknowledge the processing of their data in the USA and consent to participating in the online event of the Hertie School gemeinnützigen GmbH (hereinafter "Hertie School") in the framework of CIVICA on the topic "Digitalisation and the Future of Higher Education" on Thursday, 3 June 2021, via Zoom. In the USA, there is no level of data protection comparable to the requirements of the GDPR. It is possible that government agencies in the USA access personal data without us or you knowing about it. It is probably not possible to enforce your rights in the USA.

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For more information, please see the data protection information.

This event is organised in the framework of CIVICA - The European University of Social Sciences. CIVICA brings together eight leading European higher education institutions in the social sciences to mobilise and share knowledge as a public good and to facilitate civic responsibility in Europe and beyond. CIVICA was selected by the European Commission as one of the pilot European Universities under Erasmus+.