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Day One Keynote Speaker

Merve Lapus

Vice President of Outreach & Engagement, Common Sense Education

Reimagining Civic Engagement for the Digital Age

The ubiquity of media and technology in our lives has come with far-reaching implications: a culture of cynicism, disagreement over facts, increased incivility and a rise in hate speech, resulting in a deterioration of civic engagement. Despite these challenges, we also have a generation of young people who are energized and ready to be more civically engaged than our country has seen in a long time, eager to leverage the power of technology for good.

While digital media has the power to inspire others to act, most young people are not equipped with the knowledge, skills, and habits to participate in meaningful ways. Join us as we outline the role digital media plays in engaging students’ civic life, its affordances providing them a way to be heard, join together, and work for change.


May 23, 2022. 9:10 AM


Champlain College, Burlington

Merve is responsible for the overall outreach & engagement strategy for Common Sense Education and oversees a team that works directly with leadership to impact school communities using technology for learning and life.  Collaborating with school networks, state-level organizations, community leaders, and national partners, Merve is committed to fostering a whole-community approach to digital well-being, and establishing supportive learning spaces for all children and families to thrive in a world with media and technology.

Merve has over 18 years of experience driving education technology initiatives across school programs, and building educator confidence through professional learning, and strategic implementation.  Merve sits on a number of steering committees addressing school climate and state policy initiatives, and currently sits on the Marketing and Communications Board for the University of San Francisco and the Executive Board for the Children’s Creativity Museum of San Francisco.

Merve holds a BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of San Francisco and is often behind a camera snapping pictures of his wife and two daughters dancing around the Bay Area.

Day Two Keynote Speaker

Professor Josh Bongard

College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, University of Vermont

The xenobot: the world’s first computer designed organism.

AI and biology are advancing by leaps and bounds. They also merging. Prof. Bongard will discuss one such intersection point: the creation of a “xenobot”, the world’s first organism designed by an AI. Prof. Bongard will focus on the implications of this for our students:  How do we prepare the next generation to live, work, and thrive in a future filled with creatures that are mixtures of living and technological components? How do we help them to cultivate respect for life, at the same time that they direct future AI systems to stretch living systems into new forms and functions?


May 24, 2022. 8:00 AM


Champlain College, Burlington

Professor Josh Bongard’s research centers on evolutionary robotics, evolutionary computation and physical simulation. He runs the Morphology, Evolution & Cognition Laboratory, whose work focuses on the role that morphology and evolution play in cognition.

In 2007, he was awarded a prestigious Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship and was named one of MIT Technology Review’s top 35 young innovators under 35. In 2010 he was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by Barack Obama at a White House ceremony.

To find out more about Dr. Bongard’s work, peruse his website, see this interview with Josh, or read his book, How the Body Shapes the Way We Think: A New View of Intelligence.

Most recently, Josh was featured on CNN

for his work on xenobots.

For more information, visit Dr. Bongard’s website. Also check out this news brief about his Xenobot research!

Dr. Bongard’s keynote presentation is brought to you by Media-Flex, the makers of OPALS.

Media Flex-OPALS

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