Raya Bidshahri

Founder & CEO

Raya Bidshahri is a serial entrepreneur, writer, educator, futurist and keynote speaker. She has been described as a techno optimist, a communicator of popular science, and an advocate of curiosity, critical thinking, wonder, and awe. Raya is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Awecademy, a future-focussed educational organization that is disrupting traditional high school curricula and inspiring students to bring about civilization-level change. She is a founding member at SciFest Dubai, which serves to celebrate the science through the arts and has had a total of over 300+ events and 40,000+ audience members and participants. Raya is also the Co-founder of Intelligent Optimism, a global movement with 500,000+ followers that aims to serves to inspire a better future for humanity through science and rationality. She is the co-founder of Cafe Scientifique Dubai, an organization that gives the general public the opportunity to engage with the latest ideas in science & technology in a non-academic setting. Raya is a founding member at SheWorks, a contingent workforce platform designed to allow women to work on the cloud.​ ​She has spoken on the topics of implications of disruptive technologies and the future of education at multiple venues including the G20 Summit, Global Education & Skills Forum, UNESCO Expo-Sciences, EduTech MENA, and much more. She has been featured on CNN, BBC, SF Chronicle and in numerous other international magazines and newspapers.


Leadership stream

26 February 2019 | 12:30 - 13:00 | English | Bringing Awe & Wonder into Teaching

Awe is described as the powerful emotion we feel when we experience something so vast that we can’t completely wrap our minds around it. How many of us can confidently claim that we feel awe on a regular basis throughout our formal schooling? How often do we learn something that leaves us blown away or makes us feel empowered to stimulate some kind of positive change? For most of us, the answer is not enough. We should be teaching our students with the intrinsic rewards of awe as opposed to the extrinsic reward of grades. This talk will focus on the importance of awe and it's purpose for the progress of our species. It will also cover robust teaching strategies and case studies that can allow for more awe in education.

GESS Talks Arena

27 February 2019 | 12:40 - 12:55 | English | GESS Bites: Moonshot Thinking in Education

The way we live and work is being disrupted by exponential technologies and our education system needs to keep up. Incremental changes are no longer enough in a world of accelerating change. Moonshot Thinking, which is GoogleX's principle for innovation, advocates for 10x instead of 10% improvement. This talk will focus on the need for moonshot ideas and disruptive innovation in education technology, content and strategy.