The Imagining the Digital Future Center aspires to work with groups and individuals at Elon University and beyond on research that aligns with the Center’s mission. Results of these partnerships are included on this page.

2023-2024 Collaboration Project: Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education

Imagining the Digital Future Center is coordinating a global effort to establish a set of core principles to guide development of artificial intelligence policies and practices in higher education.

In summer 2023, more than 140 higher education organizations, administrators, researchers and faculty members from 47 countries collaborated to create a statement titled, “Higher education’s essential role in preparing humanity for the artificial intelligence revolution.”

The statement was released Oct. 9, 2023, at the 18th annual United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Kyoto, Japan. The session was led by co-authors, Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book, Elon scholar-in-residence Lee Rainie and Professor Divina Frau-Meigs of Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris.

On March 8, 2024, President Book moderated a webinar titled “AI in Academic: Transforming Teaching & Learning in the Digital Era.” The online session included  included Ethan Mollick, distinguished scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; Udo Sglavo, vice president of AI & Modeling at the SAS Institute; Hoda Mostafa, director of the Center for Learning and Teaching at The American University in Cairo; and Lee Rainie, director of the Imagining the Digital Future Center.

The six principles included in the statement embody a call for the higher education community to be an integral partner in development and governance of AI.

6 guiding Principles for AI in higher ed

  1. People, not technology, must be at the center of our work. As we engage with AI, human health, dignity, safety, privacy and security must be our first considerations.
  2. We should promote digital inclusion within and beyond our institutions. Collaboration with government, the private sector and civil society will enable us to expand outreach to all populations.
  3. Digital and information literacy is an essential part of a core education. Learners in all disciplines must be prepared to use AI proficiently, safely and ethically, and must understand the basic concepts of computer systems and programming, machine learning and data science.
  4. AI tools should enhance teaching and learning. AI must enrich and extend the educational experience and advance access and equity. We must also carefully protect the interests of learners and teachers.
  5. Learning about technologies is an experiential, lifelong process. We must help learners gain the hands-on skills they need to adapt to continual change.
  6. AI research and development must be done responsibly.
    We need rigorous ethical standards and failsafe systems as we advance AI research and design.

Signatories to the statement on higher education and artificial intelligence represent 47 countries. They include members of several academic groups, 11 university presidents and chancellors and more than 120 distinguished researchers and faculty members with expertise and interest in issues related to AI.

Leaders of the following academic groups are among the signatories:

  • National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) (USA)
  • American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) (USA)
  • International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
  • European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA)
  • American Library Association
  • Special Interest Group of the Network for Education and Research Quality (NERQ)
  • Strategy Group for Responsible AI UK