Past Event

Small Steps, Big Impact: Micro-Innovations in Education

May 16, 2024
7:00 AM - 8:30 AM
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Columbia Global Center Beijing, 1F Core Plaza, 1 Shanyuan Street, Zhongguancun, Haidian District



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Time: Thursday, May 16, 7:00PM-8:30PM (Beijing)

Location: Columbia Global Center Beijing, 1F Core Plaza, No. 1 Shanyuan Street, Zhongguancun, Haidian District

Language: English

Columbia Global Center Beijing cordially invites you to an evening of transformative ideas with Dr. Thomas Hatch, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Spring 2024 resident scholar at the Beijing Global Center. His recent book challenges traditional education and presents a future crafted by "micro-innovations."

Why do even the best education systems struggle with change? Discover how small, targeted changes are making significant strides in student success and well-being, with insights from global contexts, including the U.S., Finland, and Singapore.

The event kicks off with Professor Hatch's keynote on the power of micro-innovations, followed by a panel of Columbia alumni educators sharing firsthand experiences of how China's schools implement these micro-innovations across various subjects, their impact on mental health, and the interplay with technology and AI.

This event is part of the Beijing Center's Scholar-in-Residence Program.



Thomas Hatch

Thomas Hatch is a Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST). His research includes studies of school improvement efforts at the school, district, and national levels. His latest book, The Education We Need for a Future We Can't Predict (Corwin, 2021), focuses on efforts to create more powerful learning experiences both inside and outside schools in developed and developing contexts.

In 2010, he founded a Twitter feed and blog,, to provide access to news and research on educational policy and educational change around the world. Over the years, he's been involved in a variety of efforts to develop images of practice that take advantage of multimedia and the internet to document teachers' expertise and build public understanding of high-quality teaching.


Dr. Emily McCarren

Emily McCarren (TC '10), Ph.D., is the Executive Head of School at Keystone Academy in Beijing, China. Previously, she was the Academy (High School) Principal at the Punahou School in Honolulu Hawaii, the largest single campus K-12 independent school in the United States. During her distinguished 16-year tenure at Punahou, Emily McCarren taught all levels of Spanish, traveled the world as head of the Wo International Center, and championed the aspirations of nearly 2,000 students, faculty, and staff as Academy Principal. She led consequential initiatives guided by her creativity and passion to forge meaningful educational experiences aimed at helping students reach new heights.

Originally from Vermont, USA, Dr. McCarren graduated from Colby College in Maine where she majored in Spanish and Biology. She holds a Ph.D. from the department of Learning Design and Technology at the University of Hawaii, where her research focused the role of teacher care on a student’s online learning experience. She also holds two master’s degrees: in Spanish Literature from the Saint Louis University Madrid Campus and in Educational Leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. Read More.


Daniel Rubenstein

Daniel Rubenstein (TC '07) is honored to be the Head of School of International School of Beijing. Prior to joining ISB, Daniel was the co-founder and CEO of Prospect Schools, one of the highest-performing school networks in New York and among 16“Schools of the Future” named by the World Economic Forum.  

In addition to his work at Prospect Schools, Daniel has been instrumental in forming the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, a group of over 40 U.S. organizations dedicated to creating successful, integrated choice schools. Daniel is a 2002 winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching and has held positions in the United States at Sidwell Friends School, SEED Public Charter School, and Collegiate School, as well as in Beijing with School Year Abroad.

Daniel holds a degree in mathematics from Hamilton College and advanced degrees in Liberal Studies from St. John’s College in New Mexico and Education Leadership from Columbia University Teachers College.


Jack Hsu

Jack Hsu (CBS '98) is Founder and CEO of Ivy Group International, an educational company based in Beijing investing and operating over 20 K-12 schools and kindergartens that includes Daystar Academy and Ivy Academy. He also sits on the Advisory Board of the Columbia Global Center Beijing.

Previously, Jack was a founding partner at MMG Partners, a global management consulting firm headquartered in New York. In 2017, Jack was nominated as a China Fellow of the Aspen Institute. In 2022, he founded the non-profit organization Qi Center with the mission to cultivate a generation of social innovators. The Qi Center was awarded Aspen Institute’s McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund in 2024 for its work in China.