Bringing Theory to Practice works to change higher education, to support a national community of educational innovators, and to influence public discussion about the future of higher ed. Here are key initiatives we’re pursuing in support of these goals (along with additional materials, in the right column).
The Paradigm Project
The Paradigm Project (described more fully here) is a multiyear initiative that aims to develop new models of holistic, inclusive, engaged learning and to activate systemic change—not simply piecemeal innovation—across higher education. Beginning in 2022 and with a six to seven year timeline, the project will braid together three efforts:
- Advancing integrative and inclusive design that turns the siloes and partial innovations of the typical undergraduate experience into models of a new whole, greater than the sum of its parts, that is equitably offered to all students.
- Building a powerful movement that mobilizes faculty, staff, students, alums, and others to advocate for such change and engages decision-makers who have the power to realize or thwart it.
- Shifting the public narrative toward a vision of the personal, social, and civic purposes of higher education, one that includes but embraces more than completion rates and economic returns, the dominant themes of the current national conversation.
This weave of work will involve a wide array of working groups and action networks. It will include field scans that harvest existing innovations from across higher ed, design labs that evolve new ideas about curriculum, pedagogy, and institutional organization, and publications and media in which these ideas and the values underlying them can be distilled, debated, and presented. It will draw on a broad coalition of educators, leaders, and change-makers in such areas as racial equity, civic engagement, student well-being, curriculum and pedagogy, and educational policy. If you are interested in learning more about the project and playing a role, please contact us at
The Paradigm Project is generously supported by grants from the Endeavor Foundation. (To learn more, read here.)
The PLACE Collaboratory
PLACE (Partnerships for Listening and Action by Communities and Educators) is a two-tiered project, reflecting our commitment to community engagement and strategic collaboration. Funded by The Andrew M. Mellon Foundation, it brings together educators, students, and community partners from four cities and eleven academic institutions. They’ve created eight local partnerships, focused on significant public problems, that embody three goals:
- each project is defined by community voice rather than academic agenda-setting;
- each project centers the role of humanities, cultural, and listening practices in public work;
- and each project empowers students as civic actors and co-creators.
PLACE is also a network-wide community of practice. Through convenings and digital community-building, we aim to distill and disseminate models of authentic partnership, engaged learning, and public humanities work.
PLACE launched in July, 2019. Local projects will culminate by December, 2021, and documentation and final convenings in June, 2022, but our aim is for the projects and the network to continue and grow beyond that.
The Well-Being+Equity Collaboratory
Working with leaders in college health, equity and inclusion, and student learning, BT2P is planning a collaboratory that integrates support for student well-being and educational equity. We aim to assemble a network of campuses, researchers, and advocates to distill and disseminate model practices for overcoming racial, class, and other disparities in student thriving and support. More broadly, we aim to lift public and academic understanding of the interdependence between these values: to put equity at the heart of the well-being agenda and well-being at the heart of the equity agenda.
The planning group, comprising long-time collaborators and new friends, had intensive discussions in spring, 2020. We aim to bring together a larger circle of stakeholders for a catalyst workshop in late 2020 or early 2021, and then to launch multi-year initiative combining campus projects, outcomes assessment, and public advocacy.
Since 2003, Bringing Theory to Practice has offered campus grants to leverage campus innovation. Here’s a recap of our previous grant-making. Recent grants have been designed to advance our current goals of nurturing collaboration and amplifying the influence of the BT2P community:
- Multi-Institutional Innovation Grants or MIGs (2019-21) funded 21 collaborative projects from a proposal pool that was remarkable for its size, range, and quality.
- AMP Grants offered supplemental funds to BT2P grantees to amplify, disseminate, and extend the public reach of their earlier work. Five grants were awarded in 2019-20.
BT2P is renewing both of these successful initiatives. In late September, we issued a new call for multi-institutional grants as part of The Way Forward initiative, described below. We are also re-opening our call for AMP grants, which are available on a rolling basis to previous BT2P awardees. See the new Request for Proposals in Grants and Calls.
The Way Forward
The Way Forward launched fall 2020. Its goal (described more fully here) is to catalyze creative educational responses to the intersecting crises of racism, pandemic, and economic catastrophe facing American society and American higher education. It will begin with two linked initiatives:
- a podcast with leaders, thought-leaders, and innovators in higher education; and
- a new offering of Multi-Institutional Grants (MIGs) for collaborative proposals that respond to the crisis and the imperative for change with positive innovations. A Request for Proposals was announced in fall 2020, with applications due in early December.
In January 2021, we announced the recipients of the new round of MIGs grants in Bringing It #55. Fifteen projects were selected from across the country comprising partnerships among 50+ higher ed institutions, consortia, and community organizations. Watch this space for additional updates on this cohort of awardees and their projects.
Centering Student Voices
BT2P believes that renewing higher education means listening to students—especially students whose experiences are too often marginalized. Centering Student Voices reflects our commitment to act more fully on this belief. It will be a peer-to-peer media project, led by current and recent undergraduates and featuring students of color, low-income, and first-generation students, exploring their experiences and their visions of what inclusive, holistic, transformative should look like.
Centering Student Voices will launch in early 2021. Watch this space for more information. Students interested in taking part: contact us at [email protected].
The Well-Being+Equity Collaboratory
Toward a Well-Being+Equity Collaboratory: Project Outline & Next Steps (October, 2020)
The Way Forward