Bringing It

Bringing It #106: Your Summer Reading List from BT2P

June 15, 2023

Dear friends, 

The beginning of summer marks a time to celebrate the achievements of the past academic year and to welcome moments of renewal and inspiration in the months ahead. In that spirit, David shares works that have sparked his own imagination and that point towards new models of holistic, engaged, and equitable education. We also highlight some recent works from Paradigm Working Group (PWG) members that have broadened and deepened our understanding of academic leadership and the purposes of higher education. We hope that these suggestions might inform your own summer reading list.    

David’s Summer Reading Suggestions

I’ve taken advantage of the end of the academic year to catch up on higher-ed reading, and some of my finds have been valuable encouraging for the change-work we at BT2P (and our readers) are pursuing. One of those readings was an article by Scott Bass, the former provost of American University and director of its Center for University Excellence. The piece has an unwieldy title: “Redesigning College for Student Success: Holistic Education, Inclusive Personalized Support, and Responsive Initiatives for a Digitally Immersed, Stressed, and Diverse Student Body.” But it makes a humane and eloquent case for integrating administrative practices to align with holistic education. It’s also a brief for listening to students about what goes right and wrong in the workings of their college. The article is a precis of Bass’ equally useful book, Administratively Adrift: Overcoming Institutional Barriers for College Student Success, published last year.

Holistic change is the byword of another 2022 book that I returned to: Chris Gallagher’s College Made Whole: Integrative Learning for a Divided World. The book makes an argument that will resonate strongly with readers of Bringing It: that (to quote the title of his Introduction) “the future of higher education is integration.” Gallagher pursues that argument in discussions of curricular integration, community engagement, liberal learning and work, and much else. Like Scott Bass, he draws on his own administrative experience—he’s a vice-provost and English professor at Northeastern University—and like Bass, he centers the experiences of his students. Their voices (and his) come through powerfully.

In somewhat different ways, these books point toward a future of holistic learning in holistic institutions. A few other readings in the higher-ed press suggest that many institutions are starting to pursue forays into that future. I’m thinking especially of two superb articles by Beth McMurtrie in the Chronicle of Higher Education: “Teaching in an Age of ‘Militant Apathy” and  “Repairing Gen Ed,” which survey a variety of initiatives in immersive learning and integrative models of general education. (Our Paradigm Project gets a strong shout-out in the first piece.)

Readers of Bringing It know that building a movement for holistic, engaged, equitable learning is the heart of BT2P’s mission. What I’ve been reading makes it clear that colleagues across higher ed are offering visions, arguments, and experiments for doing just that.

Readings from BT2P Staff and the PWG

We are pleased to share that David Scobey’s essay in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, “The Paradigm Project: A Call for Radical Renewal of Higher Education,” has over 2,600 views and is one of the most read articles of the past year. This essay points to the need for transformative change in higher education and introduces the Paradigm Project as one key intervention to support new educational models, change the public narrative about higher education, and catalyze a movement for change. We are grateful to everyone who has read and shared the essay with their networks. We hope it has spurred productive conversations and action. We welcome your feedback, comments, and ideas.   

Members of the Paradigm Working Group have continued to lead change in higher education through their writings and engagement with academic and non-academic audiences. We spotlight the work of three PWG members here.  

Mary Dana Hinton, along with AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella, has pushed back against attempts by the state of Florida to erase Black history and underscored the importance of academic inquiry and a commitment to equity at the heart of higher education’s core purposes. Drawing from her experiences as a college president, she offers wise counsel on leadership and academic change. We learned much about ways to value and understand multiple campus stakeholders through the use of a presidential teach-in, and we continue to be inspired by her reflections on the work of moral imagination in higher education.

Elaine Maimon explores higher education issues and their public significance through her regular columns in the Philadelphia Citizen. Recent essays have underscored the importance of academic freedom for democracy and challenged colleges and universities to become more collaborative, a practice that pushes against the sometimes siloed and competitive culture of higher education.  

Each Thursday, Bryan Alexander hosts weekly on-line conversations about higher education issues in the Future Trends Forum. The archived recordings of past episodes, including one episode focused on the Paradigm Project, gives a broad perspective on both challenges and possibilities. We also want to recommend his latest book, Universities on Fire, which points to the many ways that colleges and universities can respond to the climate emergency. He shared his reflections about the significance of this issue for higher education in a recent interview with Paul.

This is just a small selection of the important contributions of leaders and changemakers in BT2P’s networks. We warmly welcome your suggestions of works that have challenged, informed, and inspired you. 

With gratitude for all that you do,
David, Paul, and Todd