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The Way Forward: Higher Education In a Time of Crisis

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Conversations about the promise, purpose, and power of higher ed in an era of crisis. David Scobey talks with educational leaders and change-makers about current challenges, creative responses, and positive paths forward.
Conversations about the promise, purpose, and power of higher ed in an era of crisis. David Scobey talks with educational leaders and change-makers about current challenges, creative responses, and positive paths forward. << Show Less
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Social Justice and the Value-Proposition of College: A Conversation with Patricia McGuire Patricia McGuire is president of Trinity Washington University, a Catholic women’s institution in Washington, DC.  Over three decades of leadership, she has committed the university to the service of Black and working-class women in their home community; Trinity’s student body is now 90% women of color and 50% Pell-eligible.  Pat McGuire is also become a vibrant, influential voice for racial equity and economic equality in higher education.  Here we discuss Trinity’s social-justice mission, the public responsibilities of higher ed and higher ed leaders, and her own personal journey.     Readings:   Patricia McGuire, “How Higher Education Can Atone For Its Long History of Racism” (Chronicle of Higher Education, July 26, 2019)   Patricia McGuire, “How Higher Education’s Data Obsession Leads Us Astray” (Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2019)   Patricia McGuire, “Colleges Share the Blame for the Assault on Democracy” (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 8, 2021)   The Way Forward is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.
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Social Justice and the Value-Proposition of College: A Conversation with Patricia McGuire Patricia McGuire is president of Trinity Washington University, a Catholic women’s institution in Washington, DC.  Over three decades of leadership, she has committed the university to the service of Black and working-class women in their home community; Trinity’s student body is now 90% women of color and 50% Pell-eligible.  Pat McGuire is also become a vibrant, influential voice for racial equity and economic equality in higher education.  Here we discuss Trinity’s social-justice mission, the public responsibilities of higher ed and higher ed leaders, and her own personal journey.     Readings:   Patricia McGuire, “How Higher Education Can Atone For Its Long History of Racism” (Chronicle of Higher Education, July 26, 2019)   Patricia McGuire, “How Higher Education’s Data Obsession Leads Us Astray” (Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2019)   Patricia McGuire, “Colleges Share the Blame for the Assault on Democracy” (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 8, 2021)   The Way Forward is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.
The University Should Be a Borderland, not a Border Guard: A Conversation with Michelle Fine Michelle Fine is a distinguished social psychologist at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a leading practitioner of Critical Participatory Action Research (C-PAR), research that takes on issues of injustice and social power through partnerships with community members most directly affected by those issues.  She and her colleagues at CUNY’s Public Science Project have worked with incarcerated women, queer youth, New York City high-schoolers, and others.  The resulting research is more ethical, they argue, and it produces deeper knowledge.   This episode explores the values and practices that ground Michelle Fine’s belief in participatory, community-engaged research and teaching.  But it opens out to a larger question: what would it look like for the higher ed as a whole to be fully committed and accountable to communities in crisis?   You can learn more about the work of Fine and her colleagues on the website of CUNY’s Public Science Project, which also offers readings and resources on Critical Participatory Action Research
Building a Transformational College for Adult Students: A Conversation with Adam Bush College Unbound, a small, newly accredited college in Providence, Rhode Island, has been garnering a lot of positive attention lately—with good reason.   It serves adult, working, parenting students, just the kind who are generally been ignored or underestimated by American higher education.  In contrast to the short-term job training that many leaders believe nontraditional students want and need, CU offers an undergraduate degree grounded in project-based learning, peer cohorts, and a culture of full-throated support.  Its graduation rate is around 80%.  Its cost is around $5000 a term. Its students passionately love the program.   In this episode, I speak with Provost Adam Bush about CU’s program and values, the college’s response to the pandemic, and the implications of its model of transformative education not only for adult learners, but for higher ed as a whole.   Along with visiting the College Unbound website, you can learn more by reading:   “Colleges Struggle to Serve Millions of Dropouts.  Have These Men Cracked the Code?” (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2020) “College Unbound Helps Working Adults Earn Fast Affordable Degrees” (Forbes, April 22, 2019)   The Way Forward is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.
From Triage to Transformation: A Conversation with Elaine Maimon Elaine Maimon has been an executive leader at three public universities, including Governors State University, south of Chicago, where she served as president from 2007 until 2020.  She’s a forceful advocate for the educational needs of “new majority” students: working adults, veterans, students from low-income backgrounds and communities of color.  But unlike some other thought-leaders, she insists that these students—like all undergraduates—need and deserve an education that integrates the arts and humanities, civic engagement, and meaningful preparation for work.  At Governors State, Maimon led a series of curricular and institutional changes that modeled this vision, even as the university faced the Great Recession, a budget-cutting debacle in the Illinois higher-ed system, and the Covid-19 pandemic.   In this conversation, we talk about the needs of new-majority students, the imperative of melding liberal and career-oriented learning, and how to move “from triage to transformation,” as Maimon puts it, in the face of crisis.   Elaine Maimon’s book, Leading Academic Change: Vision, Strategy, Transformation, offers a rich account of her experience and values as an academic change-maker.  Her recent essay, “Higher Ed Will Never Be the Same Again,” touches on many of the themes of our conversation.   The Way Forward is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.
In a Time of Wicked Problems, Educate Wicked Students: A Conversation with Paul Hanstedt Paul Hanstedt is Director of the Houston H. Harte Center for Teaching and Learning at Washington and Lee University and an innovative thinker and writer on undergraduate pedagogy, curriculum reform, and general education.  He believes that higher ed has short-changed students by offering bland general education and siloed majors disconnected from their actual lives.  They are ready—and hungry—to engage wicked problems, he argues.  That means educating them to become wicked problem-solvers, capable of grappling with the world’s most complex, consequential issues.  The past year has made Hanstedt’s call for curricular transformation at once more relevant and more challenging.   In this conversation, we discuss the consequences of the pandemic for teaching and learning and the opportunities it opens for “creating wicked students.”  And we ask what changes that would demand of educators and institutions.  What do wicked teachers and wicked colleges look like?   Here are links to some of Paul Hanstedt’s writing:   Creating Wicked Students: Designing Courses for a Complex World “It’s Time to Get Rid of Distribution Requirements” (Inside Higher Ed, February 2, 2020) “Might This Be the Beginning of Education?” (Inside Higher Ed, April 28, 2020)   The Way Forward is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.
Changing Higher Ed From the Outside In: A Conversation with Nancy Cantor Nancy Cantor is a distinguished social psychologist and a national leader on the importance of community engagement, diversity, inclusion, and racial justice to excellence in higher education.  As Provost of the University of Michigan in the 1990s, she helped lead the university’s successful defense of affirmative action before the U.S. Supreme Court.  As Chancellor of Syracuse University and now Rutgers University-Newark, she has stressed the role of colleges and universities as anchor institutions in and with their communities.  In response to current crises of the pandemic, poverty, and racism, she argues here, higher education needs to become radically committed to changing “from the outside in,” putting community needs, priorities, and strengths at the heart of our institutions, in everything from admissions and hiring to budgets, teaching, and research.   In this episode, Nancy Cantor describes several innovative initiatives at Rutgers-Newark, including the university’s Honors Living-Learning Community and its Center on Law, Inequality, and Metropolitan Equity.  She also discusses the Anchor Institutions Task Force, a consortium of institutions committed to the kind of community engagement and reciprocity she advocates.  Nancy Cantor’s essays and speeches are also illuminating; see, for instance, “Transforming the Academy: The Urgency of Recommitting Higher Education to the Public Good” and “A 21st Century Challenges: Empathetic Leaders and Inclusive Institutions.”    The Way Forward is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.
The Way Forward Starts with Listening: A Conversation with Freeman Hrabowski Freeman Hrawbowski has served as President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for nearly three decades, during which the university has become a national leader in undergraduate education.  UMBC is well-known for its exemplary success supporting Black students in the sciences and pre-medical education, its innovative interdisciplinary curriculum, and its leadership in students’ civic learning.  Here we explore how UMBC’s model of change framed its responses to the crisis of 2020, beginning with a commitment to patient listening and trust-building even—especially—in times of urgency.   My discussion with Freeman Hrabowski touched on several important programs at UMBC, including the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, the Center for Democracy and Civic Life, and the Shriver Center.  We also referenced his book, co-authored with two colleagues, The Empowered University: Shared Leadership, Culture Change, and Academic Success.   The Way Forward is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.
Welcome to The Way Forward Podcast The crises of 2020 have made change in higher ed all but inevitable, bringing long-simmering problems to a boil.  But what change?  Can educators meet the moment in ways that move beyond crisis management, reshaping higher ed in ways that empower students and enrich their learning?  Host David Scobey looks for answers with academic leaders and innovators who are already forging positive change.  This is not a podcast about forecasting the future of higher ed, but creating it.   The Way Forward: Higher Education in a Time of Crisis is a production of Bringing Theory to Practice; to learn more about our work, visit us at www.bttop.org.  Send us your thoughts—and suggestions for future episodes—at info@btop.org.  The podcast is produced by Jabari Butler, and Dan Rudin composed our music.