Future Prof: Digital and Critical


You have heard the tune. Great minds, we are told, no longer just publish top-tier research and teach, because the traditional model of scholarship has become too narrow and insular. Great minds become proselytizers of big ideas.

They captivate the public as influential research bloggers and attract new stakeholders like donors and media journalists through attractive digital translations of their scholarship. They manage thriving Twitter presences, and design popular MOOCs (massive open online courses).

All of this happens because universities and professors experience the fundamental disruption brought about by the fourth industrial revolution: Digital transformation. 

According to “Digital Transformation in Higher Education,” a 2017 study by global education provider Navitas, 78 per cent of all participating universities have begun to digitize some elements of their course delivery and are also creating new digital models.

Five years ago, I began asking myself what the digital transformation could mean for me as a professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University. 

Over time, I “digitized” my research agenda, created a research blog with 250,000 monthly readers, designed an MBA course around my research on consumer sociology, and founded a thriving and well-funded research institute called the Big Design Lab

In this article, I would like to reflect on what I’ve learned.

A version of this essay was published at Times Higher Education.

Title Image: William Saito, CC BY-NC-ND

Markus Giesler

Markus Giesler draws on concepts from economics, technology studies, and sociology to inform his research in marketing. He determines how ideas and things (products, services, experiences, technological innovations, intellectual property, brands, etc.) are made valuable over time, with research focused on improving marketing strategy through an understanding of markets as evolving social systems. Giesler's research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the European Research Council (ERC) and published in top-tier academic journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing. Giesler has an extensive entertainment industry background. He founded his own record label at age 17 and has worked in various production and marketing responsibilities for over a decade. He lives in Toronto, Canada.