In Brief: BTtoP News and Notes

Great to See You at the AAC&U Annual Meeting in San Francisco!

The team at BTtoP was thrilled to present four sessions at AAC&U’s 2017 Annual Meeting in January in San Francisco. We hope you found our sessions, “Risk Taking, Freedom, Safety, and Well-Being: Dimensions of an Engaged Campus Culture”; “Reimagining Higher Education for the New Majority”; “The Whole Student: Intersectionality and Well-Being;”; and “BTtoP Campus Projects: Well-Being, Civic Engagement, and Student Agency” to be engaging, timely, and helpful for your own thinking and campus practice.

Thank you to all who were able to join us at the sessions and at our reception on Thursday evening—we cherish the opportunity each year to catch up with colleagues and friends of the project, old and new! To learn more about our Annual Meeting sessions and speakers, visit


BTtoP Awards 31 Campus Dialogue Grants for Realizing Higher Education’s Greater Purposes

We are excited to announce 31 Campus Dialogue Grants ranging from $3,500 to $15,000 awarded in January to a diverse set of colleges and universities across the country. The awarded grants, chosen from a meritorious group of over 230 proposals, will provide support for one-year projects (calendar year 2017) based around a set of thematically integrated gatheringsor “dialogues” involving a core group of diverse campus constituents. Including required matching funds, the dedicated amount for these projects totals over $450,000.While the designs of the proposed dialogues and the rosters of intended dialogue participants reflect each institution’s unique campus culture and attentiveness to current issues (be it a consortia effort among three downtown universities working with local organizations to hold civically engaged dialogues about the future of their city; a small liberal arts school partneringwith a high school to hold conversations with students on diversity and democracy; a consortium of community colleges using the arts as a pathway to address policy barriers to underserved stakeholders; or an opportunity to understand the university as a sanctuary campus), ultimately these projects will facilitate the greater purposes of higher education: learning and discovery, well-being, civic engagement, and preparation for living meaningfully in the world. BTtoP’s hope is that these dialogues will lead to a change in the narrative around higher education from one that views a college education primarily as a pathway to a better job to one that views higher education as a pathway to a better life. To learn more, visit


Simon Fraser University Publishes Article on Student Well-Being in Learning Environments in Higher Education Studies

Alisa Stanton, David Zandvliet, Rosie Dhaliwal, and Tara Black—all of Simon Fraser University—recently published “Understanding Students’ Experiences of Well-Being in Learning Environments” in volume six of Higher Education Studies, a journal of the Canadian Center for Science and Education. The article provides a qualitative exploration of students’ lived experiences of well-being in learning environments within a Canadian post-secondary context. A semi-structured focus group and interview protocol was used to explore students’ own definitions and experiences of well-being in learning environments. Findings illuminate several pathways through which learning experiences contribute to student well-being, and they also offer insight into how courses may be designed and delivered to enhance student well-being, learning, and engagement. Read more at


Liberal Learning as a Quest for Purpose: A New Book from Bill Sullivan

Longtime BTtoP friend and colleague Bill Sullivan has published a new book on the undergraduate experience: Liberal Learning as a Quest for Purpose. Sullivan currently serves as senior scholar at the New American Colleges and Universities and visiting professor at the Centre for the Study of Professions at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway. This new work is an important piece in our common cause for revitalizing the undergraduate experience. The book suggests teaching and learning practices stemming from a three-year research effort developed by participating campuses; introduces the Program on the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV), a model that promotes understanding of contemporary problems facing undergraduate education; and includes strategies that encourage discussion of efforts to reimagine the higher education experience. To obtain a copy of the book, visit


Dominican College Debate 2016 Engaged 150 Delegates and 1.8 Million Social Media Users

Leading up to Election 2016, Dominican College of California hosted the College Debate, a national, non-partisan initiative to empower young voters to identify issues and engage peers in the presidential election. The debate engaged around 150 delegates from all fifty states and DC, the CD16 hashtag (#collegedebate16) reached 1.8 million social media users, and the additional press coverage produced 65 million media impressions (a measurement of the delivery of online advertisements).

The student delegates identified the issues that matter most to millennial voters and developed questions reflecting their concerns, which were delivered to the presidential candidates for the fall debates. Questions included the following: “How would you restructure governmental assistance programs for the unemployed or impoverished to obtain self-sufficiency?”; “How do you plan on supporting Syrian civilians without creating further conflict with other political actors?”; “What will you do to reduce the recidivism and mass incarceration rates in communities where poverty and violence are prevalent?”; and “How will you ensure quality education to areas of socioeconomic disadvantage both in terms of K-12 and access to higher education?”

In response to concerns that have arisen following the election, higher education partners that are involved with CD16, including BTtoP, have joined Dominican University in coordinating resources and efforts to support students, faculty, and staff on campuses across the country. For more information, visit