BTtoP 2018 Strategic Retreat

Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 7:00pm to Saturday, October 26, 2019 - 4:00pm


BTtoP hosted a Strategic Retreat to bring together our core team of staff, our Advisory Board, and key thought-partners to discuss the mission and values of Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP), to reflect on the current context in higher education, to distill priorities and projects, and to brainstorm strategies for sustaining our work. The retreat format was casual and collaborative, and the discussions exploratory and bold, allowing us to think through how to generate a practical framework for action that can guide BTtoP’s next chapter. The result of the retreat was the formation of a Strategic Priorities and Action Plan, which will guide our programmatic initiatives for the following year.


The Retreat began with a dinner at the historic Elkridge Furnace Inn on the evening of October 25th for the group to get acqainted and begin building a sense of community. Attendees were prompted to consider the following questions and share their responses:

  • What is a key concept, quotation or “passage to think with,” which you see as meaningful to our work?
  • What was a particularly transformative moment that you experienced as a student?
  • What was a particularly transformative moment (for you) that you experienced as an educator?


The following day, the group came together for a strategic discussion, generously hosted on campus by the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The following discussion prompts were included on the Agenda:

Contextual Framing: What larger contexts both within the higher ed landscape and beyond are key for BTtoP’s next chapter? Given this framing, what is most needed in higher ed? Considering BTtoP’s history, strengths, values, and scale, what are our tasks? What can we do that others can’t do without us?

Prioritizing Issues, Projects, and Strategies: Based on our contextual framing, what issues should BTtoP take on? What projects can we use to do so? What should our strategies be? What can we do that others can’t do so well without us?What is most feasible?What projects are most important or most timely? How many can we support? Collaborative projects: how to staff and sustain them? What expectations are there of commitment? How can we build buy-in from participants?

Community-building, Communications, and Visibility: Who should BTtoP’s community be? How do we build a BTtoP-wide community of practice and sense of affiliation? Should there be regular convenings? How can we use digital communications and digital collaboration?

Telling BTtoP's Story: How can we describe the identity, mission, and values of BTtoP meaningfully for different audiences? How can we curate, amplify, and raise the visibility of our work and research? How can we influence the national conversation?

Funding and Resources: What level of funding is needed?  How can we earn and obtain support?

Guides for Action: What would count as success in two years? In six months? What should our priorities be for organizing projects, launching grant-making, building communications and community, publications, research, fund-raising?

Strategic Priorities & Action Plan

As a result of the generative conversation from the one and half day event, BTtoP's Director David Scobey created a Priorities and Action Plan, which will serve as a map for BTtoP's strategic planning and programming for the following year.