Bringing It

Bringing It #108: Relationship-Rich at BT2P and Beyond

August 03, 2023

Dear friends,

We’ve hosted friends and colleagues at Elon over the past few weeks and are ruminating on the thoughtful discussions and sparks of inspiration we have garnered together. We have updates to share regarding our convenings of the Paradigm Working Group and The Way Forward grant recipients, but the overwhelming feeling in our office is gratitude. We are grateful to have such dedicated and passionate individuals in our network, strengthening the core purposes of higher education. We are also grateful to see our people thrive, as new publications by our community members offer hope of tangible and accessible change. Never have we been more convinced of the power of community. So, let’s continue to celebrate each other, our working relationships, and our friendships. We are stronger together.

The Paradigm Working Group Gathering

From July 10th-13th members of the Paradigm Working Group convened to discuss the next steps of the Paradigm Project. We had fruitful discussions centered on the broader purposes of higher education, what all students deserve, and the social compact between higher education and the public. We helped set goals for movement building, public communications, and key resources for catalyzing change in higher education. Future issues of Bringing It will share documents and stories of innovation in higher education.

The Way Forward Gathering

We welcomed higher ed partners in our multi-institutional grants initiative –The Way Forward– from July 17th-20th for a final convening. We used this gathering to recognize their impressive work:

  • Taja-Nia Henderson and Zion Crichlow represented the work of the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology and Rutgers University, Newark, in preparing undergraduate students of color for graduate programs and careers in the field of psychology. With a 100% success rate in their first cohort, Taja-Nia and Zion made significant strides in demystifying the graduate school application process and supporting the next generation of clinicians.
  • Julie Plaut represented the partnerships of Brown University, College Unbound, and Providence College in creating courses that are community-based and transferable among institutions. This project pulled together a community of students in Providence, redefining the “typical” college student, and encouraged sharing even beyond educational resources.
  • Ali Schaeffing and Geoff Miller represented Russell Sage College in partnership with the Community Campus Collaborative and community-based institutions in Albany, NY in strengthening access to college resources and campuses for refugees. The partnerships provided a hub of support for local refugees through workshops, family-level programming, and community building, and also started a chapter of Every Campus a Refuge. The final piece of their work will be a video centered on refugee voices.
  • Jill Strauss represented the partnership between Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY) and Rutgers University, New Brunswick, in creating a digital art exhibition memorializing student experiences of the pandemic. Not only did this project make great strides in helping students find ways to come together when it is unsafe to physically congregate, it also led to the creation of an “Open Lab” of digital art-making technology, and a book chapter co-authored by Jill and her project collaborator, Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan.
  • Norman Shawanokasic represented the partnership of the University of Wisconsin system, the Tribal Colleges of Wisconsin, the College of Menominee Nation and other Wisconsin institutions in educating educators on equity in the classroom. Norm and his collaborators facilitated conference sessions and strengthened relationships between partners that have created a foundation for continuing collaborations.

These initiatives across institutions and across different areas of work (equity, access, and creative curriculum) reflects the goals of our operations. We were pleased to celebrate our colleagues, and to know that we’ll be drawing on our relationships with them in our projects moving forward.



A New Book on Relationship-Rich Education
Paradigm Working Group member and Elon colleague Peter Felten has co-authored a new book written for and about undergraduate students, Connections Are Everything: A College Student’s Guide to Relationship-Rich Education. The chapters are intended to lay the groundwork for fostering and maintaining connections, emphasizing how students can build on the strengths they are bringing to their college experiences. By defining who exactly students will interact with in college, and the steps to actualize a “constellation of connections,” this text is actualizing the work of accessibility. As a companion to Relationship-Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College (2020), this new book centers student stories, with chapters intended to be sampled and to guide students on practical ways to put these new skills into practice. Featuring an Afterword by Paradigm Working Group member Tim Eatman and his student Mohamed A. Farge, this book is sure to be a fixture on dorm room bookshelves and digital collections.

Here’s Peter discussing how students can access this text. Explore similar content on the book’s website.

A New Essay on Diversity Amid National Setbacks
Paradigm Working Group member Elaine Maimon’s new essay “Achieving College Diversity Without Affirmative Action” offers actionable solutions for selective colleges and universities to diversify their campuses in the wake of the end of affirmative action. Building on the New York Times’ reporting that confirms higher admission rates for “legacy” students, Elaine argues that simply doing away with legacy admission is not a significant enough change. Instead, she supports regular engagement with community colleges through accessible programming, recruiting students locally and outside of athletics, and many other solutions for change that can happen now. Using the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a model for diverse recruitment and community commitment, Elaine argues that a diverse student body is possible in selective institutions. Elaine continues to bring innovative and creative solutions for paradigmatic change.

Relationship-building is at the core of our work. As an organization, we’re committed to building networks of change-makers to tackle wicked problems. As change-makers, you are the leaders we’re following towards a more accessible and equitable higher education landscape. We look forward to our shared work ahead.

With thanks for all that you do,
David, Gillian, Kate, Paul, and Todd

Bringing Theory to Practice
Elon University