September 5, 2019 | Bringing It #23: A Warm Welcome, Good Reads, and Notable Work

Dear Friends, 

With the start of a new academic year, we hope that you’ve had some time this summer to breath and replenish yourselves, or to embark on new projects and adventures – or both.

Welcome Kate Griffin as PLACE Project Coordinator

As you know, BTtoP is beginning an important new project of our own, the PLACE Collaboratory, funded by a generous grant from The Mellon Foundation. (You can click here to learn more about the project.)  We are delighted to introduce our new Project Coordinator for the PLACE Collaboratory, Kate Griffin. As Project Coordinator, Kate will serve a crucial role in managing relationships among the participating institutions and community partnerships, sustaining ongoing communications among participants and organizing twice-yearly network convenings, and building a community of practice based on inclusive relationships and shared agenda-setting among our community and academic partners.

Kate brings a wide range of experience to our project. Along with earning a doctorate in American Studies (focusing on African-American and Native American women’s literature), she worked for California Indian Legal Services and helped lead social-impact programs for the Taproot Foundation. She designed “San Francisco Seniors Remember,” an oral history project in partnership with the University of San Francisco, and co-founded the Storefront Institute, a Bay-Area grassroot public-humanities center. She currently directs the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire. Kate’s background, in short, brings together experience with academic-community partnerships, public humanities and community-based arts, project management, and community-building. We are so pleased to be working with such an experienced and enthusiastic changemaker. Please join us in welcoming Kate as she helps lead the PLACE Collaboratory.

What Our Partners are Doing: Active Minds

Our friends at Active Minds, an organization dedicated to raising mental health awareness among college students, are pleased to announce a Call for Applications for their 2020 Healthy Campus Awards. The awards champion schools that take a campus-wide, public health approach to promoting mental health alongside physical health. Winning institutions will have their innovative efforts showcased as part of a national promotional tour in 2020. Previous winners have included Arizona State University, Duke University, Jefferson Community College, Kent State University, University of Oregon, University of South Carolina, and University of South Florida, among others. Winners and their effective strategies have been featured in the NY Times, Vice, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Thrive Global, and other publications.

Please consider applying. More information and the detailed Call for Applications are available at www.ActiveMinds.org/Award. Applications are due October 25.

What We’re Reading: Alternative Universities

As some of you may know, Caitlin just entered her second year in the Masters of Learning, Design, and Technology program at Georgetown University. This year one of the required texts is Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education by David Staley.  Caitlin offers these thoughts:

Far from feeling like a typical required text, this was an absolute pleasure to read and, I would imagine, a great inspiration for anyone interested in redesigning the university. Written in an accessible tone that welcomes both new higher-ed stakeholders and long-time members of academia, Staley acknowledges pragmatic and logistical issues without sacrificing creativity in his exploration of ten “alternative universities.” While there are interesting advantages and potential risks with each of the models, a few of my personal favorites are:

Nomad University, which is “nowhere and everywhere,” and guided by the philosophy of “Education in many places.” While there is one administrative hub, faculty and students work in networks around the world, offering classes as short-term site projects akin to experiential, community-based internships. Students receive housing and meals while on location, funded through payment for the projects by local corporations or NGOs.

The University of the Body, which builds on the idea that technology and new interfaces will require engagement with all of the body’s senses. The University’s physical space builds on concepts like MIT’s ambientROOM – a virtual reality sensory-rich environment. New interdisciplinary and sensory literacies would emerge, like “olfactoricity” and “manipulaticy.”

Superager University, which appears to resemble a traditional liberal arts institution but is designed specifically for students sixty and older, for the period of life after retirement. Coursework is designed to challenge long-held assumptions, critically reflect on beliefs, enrich and sharpen cognitive abilities, and enhance physical health.

Polymath University, which requires students to major in three completely different disciplines, based on “the educational philosophy that creativity and innovative thinking emerge from the mash-up of disparate ideas.” Students have three major advisors and one meta “transadvisor,” who guides them to an interdisciplinary final capstone project.

This was a quick and fun read. Although there’s plenty of room to problematize Staley’s ideas (particularly, for me, concerning equity and accessibility), I found the jump-start to my own creative thinking well worth it. 

Special Offer: Free BTtoP Publications

We want to remind you of our special publications offer. For a limited time, we are making our six books, designed for use by educators, administrators, and higher education professionals, available for free through our partners at AAC&U – you pay shipping costs only. This offer includes bulk orders for those who would like to order multiple copies for distribution to committees, faculty members, students, and/or community members. Since our first announcement in August, we’ve gotten more than 1600 orders. We’re delighted by the interest, and we hope that you’ll add your name to that list. To learn more and to order, please visit here.  

With thanks, 

David, Caitlin, Mercedes