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Tuesday Mainstage

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Location: New Orleans Theater
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Alyssa Carson  
Robert George  
Mary Jo Madda  
Dr. Cornel West  

The need for collaboration in education is greater today than ever before! We need to look at education from a variety of lenses -- all encompassing perspectives to bring us new learning -- students need to be prepared for it all, on Earth to Mars.

Presenters

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Alyssa Carson, Florida Institute of Technology

Alyssa Carson, known by the call sign Blueberry, is an American college student who aspires to train to be an astronaut and participate in human spaceflight to Mars. She attended U.S. Space Camp in 2008 and has since attended camps in Laval, Quebec, and Izmir, Turkey. In 2013, she was recognized by NASA as the first to visit all 14 NASA Visitor Centers in the United States, and she sat on the NASA Mer 10 panel at age 12, discussing future missions to Mars in the 2030s. In 2019, she enrolled at Florida Institute of Technology to study astrobiology, and has also attended the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences, enrolling in Possum Academy at age 15. Carson received her applied astronautics certification at age 17, certifying her to do research missions in suborbital space. She has appeared in television shows and movies, including “The Mars Generation,” “Pickler & Ben,” “Steve Harvey” and “El Hormiguero” In 2022, Carson was selected as one of five influencers/ambassadors worldwide to work with NATO. She’s a member of the The Explorers Club, and is the youngest full member ever accepted. She has earned a rocket license, advanced scuba certification, pilot’s license, skydiving Class A license and is a certified aquanaut.

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Robert George, Princeton University

Robert P. George, Ph.D., is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He has served as chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the President’s Council on Bioethics. He was a judicial fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore, he holds a juris doctorate and a master’s in theological studies from Harvard University. He earned a Ph.D., bachelor’s degree, doctorate of civil law and doctor of letters from Oxford University, as well as 22 honorary doctorates. George is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Mary Jo Madda, EdSurge

Mary Jo Madda is a doctoral student at the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies. Previously, she was a director at EdSurge. At the start of her career, she taught middle school math/science with Teach for America's Houston corps (specifically KIPP Houston), and later with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at St. Cyril of Jerusalem School, where she also served as an administrator, curriculum coordinator and decathlon coach. Following her years teaching, she was a member of the ScratchED team at the MIT Media Lab, was an instructional coach with MATCH Charter Schools, and served as one of four founding Education Entrepreneurship Fellows at the Harvard University Innovation Lab, while piloting an educational media start-up. She was also a fellow in the Harvard Graduate School Leadership Institute. Madda has an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. She was featured on the Forbes "30 Under 30" list for 2016 for her work at EdSurge, and has spoken at venues including Stanford, the University of Virginia and TEDxChicago.

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Dr. Cornel West, Princeton University

Cornel West, Ph.D., is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary, professor emeritus at Princeton University and an author. He teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in philosophy of religion, African American critical thought, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, literature and music. A former professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard, West graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years and earned a master’s and Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton. He’s the author of 20 books, including Race Matters, Democracy Matters and Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at 19th and 20th century African American leaders and their visionary legacies. He’s a frequent guest on the “Bill Maher Show,” CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. West is passionate about keeping alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

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