2018 Honorary Degree Recipients

John Seely Brown

Commencement Speaker:
John Seely Brown, innovator

Anne Case, professor and health economist

Natalie Crawford, RAND senior fellow, air and space policy expert

Alex McDowell, narrative designer, professor, world builder


John Seely Brown

John Seely Brown

Commencement Speaker

John Seely Brown is a visiting scholar and advisor to the Provost at the University of Southern California (USC) and the Independent Co-Chairman of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge. Prior to that he was the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)—a position he held for nearly two decades. He was a cofounder of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL).

Brown, or as he is often called—JSB—is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and of AAAS. He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals. His recent books include The Social Life of Information (HBS Press, 2000), with Paul Duguid; The Only Sustainable Edge (HBS Press, 2005), with John Hagel, The Power of Pull (Perseus books, 2010), with John Hagel; and The New Culture of Learning (2011), with Professor Doug Thomas at USC.

JSB describes himself as "a master integrator and instigator of productive friction, JSB explores the whitespace between disciplines and builds bridges between disparate organizations and ideas." His research interests include "digital youth culture, digital media, and the application of technology to fundamentally rethink the nature of work and institutional architectures in order to enable deep learning across organizational boundaries – in brief, to design for emergence in a constantly changing world."

JSB received a B.A. from Brown University in 1962 in mathematics and physics and a Ph.D. from University of Michigan in 1970 in computer and communication sciences.

Anne Case

Anne Case is the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University, where she is the Director of the Research Program in Development Studies. Case has written extensively on health over the life course. She has been awarded the Kenneth J. Arrow Prize in Health Economics from the International Health Economics Association, for her work on the links between economic status and health status in childhood, and the Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for her research on midlife morbidity and mortality.

Case currently serves on the Advisory Council for the NIH-National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science, and the Committee on National Statistics. She is a Research Associate of the NBER, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, and is an affiliate of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. She also is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She received a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Natalie Crawford

Natalie Crawford is a senior fellow and Distinguished Chair in Air and Space Policy at the RAND Corporation. She is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She has held a number of leadership positions within RAND Project Air Force, and was vice president and director from 1997 to 2006.

Crawford received the U.S. Air Force Academy's 2012 Thomas D. White National Defense Award for her significant contributions to national security. In 2011, she received the Air Force Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the advancement of aerospace science and technology. In 2006, she received the OSD Medal for Exceptional Public Service and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Defense Industrial Association's Combat Survivability Division. Crawford was awarded the Department of the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service twice, in 1995 and 2003. Also in 2003, she received the Air Force Analytic Community's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lt. Gen. Glenn Kent Leadership Award, and the Vance R. Wanner Memorial Award from the Military Operations Research Society. She was named an AIAA Fellow in 2011.

Alex McDowell

Alex McDowell studied Fine Art (Painting) at Central School of Art in London, where he intersected with music at the beginning of the punk era. He designed graphics and music videos for musicians from The Cure to Madonna, which led to his work in cinema as a production designer. To date, he has more than 20 films to his credit, including Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, David Fincher's Fight Club, and Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

He is currently professor of practice at USC School of Cinema where he directs the World Building Media Lab and World Building Institute (with partners Intel, Technicolor, Havas, Steelcase, Burberry, Autodesk, Epic and Unity) and teaches world building as a media- and platform-agnostic narrative design practice. Present research includes the development of a pancreatic beta cell as a city and a single street corner as a human system. He is principal and creative director at Experimental Design Studios, building future worlds for client partners that include Nike, Ford, Sony, Boeing, the Saudi Royal family and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council. He builds these worlds in collaboration with game makers, architects, biologists, neuroscientists, musicians and storytellers across all media including those not yet visible. His studio has launched a virtual flying whale over 5000 people for Intel in 2014 and Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and developed a future vision for a village in Saudi Arabia, a technology center at Boeing, and a City of Tomorrow for Ford CEO Jim Hackett at CES 2018.

His awards include the RSA Royal Designer for Industry (2006), the President's Award, UK DNAD, (2013), the Future Voice Award/ Interaction (2014), the ADG Excellence in Production Design (2005), the SDFCS Award (2002); and nominations for BAFTA (2006), Saturn (2010), OFTA (2003, 2006), and VES (2003). He has been Visiting Artist at MIT Media Lab and the Getty Research Center, and sits on the Autodesk IDEAS board. He currently serves on the Freeman Design Council with chair Bruce Mau and remains on the advisory board for the National Academy of Sciences and the Science and Entertainment Exchange. He is International Member of the UK ISCF Creative Clusters Challenge Board.