Bringing It

Bringing It #45: Enhancing Engagement and Equity

August 19, 2020

Dear friends,Last week we introduced you to new colleagues (and our new logo). Here we return to the main business of Bringing It: sharing the change-work of educators and thought-leaders in the BT2P community and across higher ed. These posts focus on public engagement about the rights and needs of working people, a convening on interfaith student leadership, and new resources that foreground engaged learning and equity in the face of the pandemic.

Grantee Spotlight: The ENACT Labor Network

We’re delighted to be supporting the ENACT Labor Network (ELN), based at Brandeis University, with a Multi-Institutional Innovation Grant. As Labor Day approaches, here’s a post about the project’s important work on labor policy and workers’ rights:

The ENACT Labor Network (ELN) is a pilot project of ENACT: The Educational Network for Active Civic Transformation. Based at Brandeis University, ENACT is a national, non-partisan program that teaches university students about our democracy through engagement in the state legislative process. ENACT students are encouraged to think deeply about the complexities of shaping laws for constituents who hold diverse viewpoints about what is right and good for society and how best to progress through the legislative process.

The ELN is a deep dive into labor issues. Over the course of the 2019-20 academic year, a team of ENACT Faculty Fellows mentored a small group of dedicated students across the country to work with community stakeholders, visit state houses, and talk to policymakers. They met virtually with nationally recognized labor scholars to study state legislation that focused on such issues as wage theft, union rights, privatization, and low-wage workers.

For some, the COVID-19 pandemic radically shifted priorities. For ENACT, it has reinforced our commitment to efforts like the ELN to create an innovative virtual structure for cross-state learning that combines high quality education, leadership development, and ethical civic engagement.

Interfaith Leadership Institute – September 17, 2020

Interfaith Youth Core does amazing work fostering interfaith cooperation and multicultural education. Their annual student leadership institute is of course virtual this year. Check out this call.

Interfaith Youth Core’s annual  Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) has shifted to a one day all virtual experience to equip undergraduate students and educators with the skills to bring the movement for interfaith cooperation back to their campuses and communities.  Given the financial constraints campuses and individuals are navigating, we’re reducing the registration fee to $25 and there is no need to pay to attend the ILI if you or your campus is unable. Learn more here.

What We’re Reading: Finding Opportunities For Positive Change In the Crisis

The higher-ed press — and most of our social media feeds — are full of debate, critique, and prognostication about the opening of the Covid Fall Term. It’s necessary. And it’s exhausting. We’ve also been hungry for readings that speak to the opportunities for big, positive change in the face of the crisis. Here are three:

  • Cathy Davidson of CUNY and Dianne Harris of the Mellon Foundation published “Making Remote Learning Relevant” in Inside Higher Ed, calling on institutions to “throw out the conventional curricular and pedagogical playbook” and create interdisciplinary, problem-based curricula that equip students to confront the crisis.
  • In “From Triage to Transformation” (also appearing in Inside Higher Ed), our friend Elaine Maimon, former president of Governors State University, argues that the triple crises of racial justice, economic collapse, and the pandemic open a door to transformative institutional change that can place active learning and community betterment at the center of college education.
  • Elaine and Carol Geary Schneider (former president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities) published “Planning For Quality and Equity: It’s Now or Never,” in AAC&U’s Liberal Education Blog–and linked it to this toolkit for “post-triage planning.”

Academic institutions and academics have to react in real time to the health and fiscal catastrophes. But we need to do more than that, or else the crisis will set the way forward. These readings bring the values and strengths of higher education to bear on the urgency of change. Are there other resources you’re finding useful?

We hope you can navigate these storms in safety and with hope. We are grateful for the work you do.

David, Lily, Todd, and Kate