Bringing It

Bringing It #69: Return to Campus, Opportunity, and Calls

August 20, 2021

Dear Friends,

There are rhythms and cycles to the life of higher education, and August is the annual time of preparations and beginnings. As we enter the beginning of a new academic year, we want to share with you a message on returning to campus from our Director and an opportunity and call to get involved.

Return to Campus

Students are registering for classes and moving into dorms and apartments. For some, classes have already begun. The work of many offices—advising, financial-aid, student-affairs—that had simmered in the summer is now heating up. Convocations are planned, and sports teams are intensifying practice. If you are like me—as I prepare to teach a history seminar here at Elon—this is also the season of racing to fix my syllabus and finalize my assignments (why didn’t I start earlier? I have wondered every August for thirty-five years). Despite the adrenalized stress, or maybe because of it, I kind of love the muscle memory of anticipation, hope, and frantic-ness that comes with this time of year.

But the pandemic upended the annual cycle, not destroying but disrupting its rhythms. Calendars were shifted to minimize campus contact. Convocations and Commencements went virtual, if they happened at all. Students and faculty Zoomed from home, and many students stopped out in the face of Covid’s economic and health ravages. Our learning communities were fractured, and so was that shared sense of rhythm—weekly classes, midterms and all-nighters, drop-add and grading deadlines, weekend performances and games—that sustains those communities.

So, what about this year? Although new variants may compel a future round of campus shutdowns and remote learning, it seems that the emergency is over. But so is that short window of relief that accompanied the spread of vaccinations before the spread of Delta. This year is bringing a return to campuses and classrooms, but one shadowed by endemic risk and the need for risk management. Masks—and the guidelines and struggles over masks—have been the emblem of the season.

Speaking only for myself, I’m glad that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the authority of Indiana University to mandate vaccination for all returning students, and I’m glad that here at Elon, the university is requiring everyone to be masked in public indoor spaces at the start of the year, including classrooms. But I hope that our campus communities can go beyond such mandates, and can surround the rules with other meanings. Masks can be worn and required out of fear (I don’t want my students to kill me), but they can also embody compassion and care (God forbid I should spread Delta). They can serve as emblems of mistrust or of solidarity, of exhaustion or of resilience. My hope this year is that we can return to campus under the signs of care, solidarity, and resilience. We will need them all as we find our way forward toward positive change in higher education and the way back to rhythms of renewal and connection that can sustain such change.

– David, Director

Call for Calls, Events, & News from the BT2P Community

Part of our mission is to foster collaboration among academic institutions, across academic sectors, and within communities. In doing so, we welcome and will post announcements and calls to the community-at-large for collaborators on a project, employment or grant opportunities, or educational events.

Have an event, opportunity, or news regarding holistic and transformative undergraduate education?

Send your announcements and suggestions to: [email protected]


Our friends at Imagining America are currently inviting submissions for its multi-media journal Public. For their Spring 2022 issue, IA invites critical reflection on a subject of pressing concern across multiple political, economic, social, and environmental struggles for justice and equity: Water. Essential to all living systems, water scarcity impacts more than half of the world’s population, with droughts and severe flooding predicted to displace hundreds of millions of people within the next decade.

Their Spring 2022 issue, The Shape of Us: Water Ways and Movements, will focus not only on the global water crisis but also on water as a guide to movement organizing and liberation work. Full submissions will be accepted through September 17, 2021. For more information on how to submit, please see their call for submissions.

With thanks and best wishes for a great semester ahead,

David, Kate, Kelly, & Todd