Editor's Note

By Jennifer O’Brien, Project Manager and Coordinator of Strategic Planning and Development, Bringing Theory to Practice

In the winter 2016 issue of the Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) newsletter (http://www.bttop.org/sites/default/files/public/BTP%20News_winter16.pdf), BTtoP’s National Evaluator Ashley Finley (Dominican University, formerly at Dickinson College and AAC&U) wrote about evidence. After funding grants and reviewing reports at hundreds of institutions across the country, BTtoP felt comfortable addressing the “preponderance of evidence” from the grant reports showing that engaged learning, civic development and engagement, and student well-being are inextricably related in any institution of higher education offering a transformational experience for all students.

This was the original hunch behind the BTtoP project—and the dedicated work of many of you, our colleagues on campuses across the country and a few abroad, confirmed it. We now refer to these (learning and discovery, civic engagement, well-being, and preparation for meaningful living) as the greater purposes of higher education.

Ashley’s essay also mentioned seven in-depth case studies that BTtoP commissioned in 2014 on institutions that have been partners with BTtoP for many years (some for over a decade). What began as an internal reflection for BTtoP’s core team of staff and consultants turned into a group of must-read campus narratives that offer insight into real institutional change—directly from those involved with the projects on campus. Read more here: http://www.bttop.org/resources/bringing-theory-practice-case-studies.

Then, in the spring 2016 issue of our newsletter (http://www.bttop.org/sites/default/files/public/BTP%20News_spring16_1.pdf), Project Director Don Harward wrote about BTtoP’s interest in generating a community of practice, emphasizing that change within that community of practice requires voices, from within each institution as well as from the public, demanding that higher education be a public good. BTtoP is trying, with your hard work and encouragement, to advance these greater purposes of higher education.

While both of these essays offered readers an overview of BTtoP’s work and strategy, we thought it would be helpful to be even more explicit (bringing theory to practice) by providing you, our reader, with more specific examples of the many projects we have supported to date.

So, this issue highlights a number of recent examples illustrating what this preponderance of evidence actually looks like. Hopefully these examples inspire positive change on your campuses in advancing the greater purposes of higher education.

We hope you enjoy reading these highlights, and we would like to remind you that we are always interested in sharing your campus story in our newsletter (http://www.bttop.org/submit-article-bttop-newsletter).

I would also like to draw your attention to the save-the-date for our upcoming “The Whole Student: Intersectionality and Student Well-Being” conference to be held in Chicago, from May 24 to 26, 2017, and to an announcement about a new special round of funding for 2017–18 focused on supporting campus dialogues on advancing the greater purposes of higher education. We look forward to hearing from you!