ITHAKA convened 160 academic library, publishing, and other US higher education leaders on November 29, 2017 for The Next Wave 2017 — a day of talks and conversation aimed at exploring how institutions are evolving to better serve learners and researchers.

Will Fenton, a fellow, teacher, and writer/columnist, served as host and navigator for the day. He opened with eyes-wide-open remarks about declining public trust in higher education institutions and increasing financial pressure including that likely to be felt from ongoing US tax reform. Against this backdrop, sixteen speakers from a wide range of institutions and organizations shared work underway to tackle our biggest challenges: enrolling and graduating more students — particularly those with fewer resources and college preparation than in the past, competing globally and supporting research as practices are shifting, and aligning publishing with new digital knowledge outputs and online personalized learning pathways.

Speakers shared success stories and what the critical factors have been, as well as ongoing barriers standing in the way of accelerating progress. Attendees also had the opportunity to consider how to affect change, hearing about the role of leadership and innovation through the personal experiences of institutional leaders reimagining their schools and programs or starting from scratch.

The format was primarily discussion and Q&A punctuated with a few presentations (list below) and a keynote address by the well-known author and academic Clay Shirky. Worth reading are two articles highlighting the themes of the day and notable insights from speakers: Old Ways Meet New Tech (and New Students) at Meeting of Library and Academic Leaders (Ed Surge) and ITHAKA Next Wave Conference Focuses on Higher Ed Challenges (Library Journal). Attendees and the broader interested community also engaged key questions on twitter #ithakatnw17.

The Next Wave (originally branded Sustainable Scholarship) has been held since 2009. It’s one of the important ways ITHAKA contributes to building understanding and new strategies among higher education institutions, libraries, and publishers. As we look ahead to The Next Wave 2018, we invite members of these and the broader technology community to contribute thoughts about topics and speakers that you think will help inform and inspire change as we as look to higher education’s next wave. You can email your ideas to Heidi McGregor at


Old Ways Meet New Tech (and New Students) at Meeting of Library and Academic Leaders (Ed Surge, Jennifer Howard)

ITHAKA Next Wave Conference Focuses on Higher Ed Challenges (Library Journal, Lisa Peet)


Alan Bearman: From Cost Center to Profit Center – Embracing the Student Success Agenda at Washburn University
Darcy Cullen: Digital Multi-path Books
Alan Harvey: Introducing .supDigital
John Sherer: A Modest Proposal for Book Publishing
Jade Winn: Multi-Institutional/Longitudinal Student Success Research – Information Literacy Assessment – The GWLA Study

Further Reading from Ithaka S+R:

Dec 13, 2017: What is Researcher Workflow?
Oct 31, 2017: Higher Ed Insights: Results of the Spring 2017 Survey
Sept 19, 2017: CIC Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction II
Aug 8, 2017: University Libraries are Putting the Student First
Apr 3, 2017: US Library Survey 2016
May 18, 2017: Finding a Way from the Margins to the Middle: Library Information Technology, Leadership, and Culture
Feb 1, 2017: Funding Socioeconomic Diversity at High Performing Colleges and Universities
Feb 5, 2016: The Costs of Publishing Monographs