Bringing It

Bringing It #115: The Season of Darkness and Lights

December 14, 2023

Dear friends,

This year-end issue of Bringing It comes at the close of a tough season for higher education. The fall began with news of draconian cuts at West Virginia University and elsewhere (discussed here in an earlier issue). The semester also saw passionate, sometimes toxic polarization on campuses in response to the Hamas attacks on Israeli communities and the Israeli attacks on Gaza, polarization that exposed students, staff, and faculty to both antisemitic and Islamophobic harassment. It saw the weaponization of that campus conflict by right-wing politicians and culture warriors and the unfortunate toppling of one university presidency. Meanwhile colleges are grappling with the consequences of the Supreme Court’s ban on affirmative action for not only their admissions process but also their larger commitments to equity and diversity. Emboldened by the Court’s decision, red-state governors and legislators are working to censor and police campus programs and curricula that they condemn as “woke.” And that’s not even to mention the massive, unfolding, uncertain implications of an AI revolution.

The winter break couldn’t come too soon. It’s a time to breathe, to connect, to rest (or adventure), and to renew. It’s also a season of short days and long nights, a time when fires, candles, and holiday lights are lit against the darkness of the winter solstice. So it’s worth reflecting that, at a time of threat, division, and exhaustion for students, educators, and our campuses, there are also sparks of creative energy and positive change being lit across higher education. We’ve described some of them in Bringing It issues this fall:

Without wanting to be too corny, these are candles in the dark, and there are hundreds of others. They are why—as we confront the turmoil across higher education—we believe that big, positive, paradigm-shifting change is possible. 

But for now, it’s time to rest and renew.

We’d like to end the year with a massive thank you to all our readers—and a request. If you enjoy Bringing It, we’d ask that you encourage two of your colleagues to sign up for our mailing list. We want to grow our community, to bring exemplary stories and updates to more inboxes. Also, if you’re looking for holiday reading, check out the BT2P publications page here; nearly all our books are available to download for free.

 With thanks for all you do,

David, Gianna, Gillian, Kate, Paul, and Todd

Bringing Theory to Practice
Elon University