I am thinking about the downhill slide of the public narrative surrounding higher education. Has it been our success at producing grads that can name and confront bigotry that has made higher ed now ground zero for the attacks against liberal ideas and multiculturalism? Or have we failed miserably to bring to our communities the true value of these ideas? Value that translates to a better quality of life for people?

There was a moment when I thought that my voice might actually be heard within the church, and that I might help influence not merely those who came from the church, but those who would move into the pulpits later. And a couple of folk, I actually did influence. But the undertow of fundamentalism was a lot stronger than I ever envisioned it being, and...well.

See also:

@clhendricksbc @karencang

I cuss on a regular basis that Libby Nelson's single best piece of journalism ever was when she interviewed my old dean and a couple of old colleagues...over THAT. @clhendricksbc @karencang

@karencang Excellent question. I don't know a lot of the history, but it seems to me that higher ed in N America & maybe parts of Europe recently seen as more liberal than rest of societies around them. I mean, past century or so. places of questioning, of not accepting status quo, so seemingly dangerous.

@clhendricksbc That makes sense. I always thought that questioning the status quo is what made higher ed especially valuable - that we were about transforming society, not just replicating it. I can see how that threatens people who benefit from the status quo, or just anyone who doesn't like change. So I think we have an obligation to do a better job of bringing our messages to people in ways that they can hear it.

Love that piece of a dialogue between @karencang and @clhendricksbc.

I'm an intellectual child of Mark Noll's Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, and I entered into higher education with a bit of a missionary zeal - not merely as a servant of Christ, but a servant of science, and thinking about how I could represent my faith in my scholarship of teaching and still communicate the science rigorously.

1999 was a very different time than 2016, though.

@ShorterPearson @karencang Oh sorry--the big space posts take up on my screen means I answered the previous one before scrolling to see the later ones. Jumped the gun!

@ShorterPearson @karencang Wow, I didn't know about this. I'm gathering you taught there for awhile?

@clhendricksbc @karencang Eight years and won tenure. I bailed the summer everything went down; I saw the handwriting on the wall in blood, took the offer that came to me in June, and prayed to heaven I was wrong about what I was seeing.

I spent academic 2011-2012 writing recommendation letters.

Oh, and the place I decamped to was Virginia Intermont College, which closed three years later.

The 2010s have been a hell of a decade.

@ShorterPearson @karencang Gah...that sounds awful. I hope you're in a place now that is more stable! And I tell ya, I'm so ready for 2016 to be done. I'm not the only one. Maybe the rest of the decade will be better, not worse, though I fear for the latter.

@ShorterPearson @clhendricksbc @karencang Listening in here. I just don't see how these colleges intend to survive in an increasingly pluralistic world. How do you recruit and retain faculty? Or students? Or administrators? It's baffling. I started my career in a place like Shorter and GTFO after four years. Ironically feel more free to live my faith in a public uni than I ever did in a religious college.

@RobertTalbert @ShorterPearson @karencang I don't know enough about religious institutions to say much, though I guess I have this thought that some are more free, more able to accommodate multiple interpretations? And I think fundamentalism may be stronger in the U.S. than Canada, but again, I am really not well informed in this area.

@ShorterPearson @karencang I'm gathering from your post here that that vocation may not be working in 2016?

@karencang And it's so hard to do that when the message is, sometimes has to be, that what is going on around us is unacceptable. Like right now. I struggle with how to speak to those who seem to not be listening to facts or reason, when the ethical arguments that I feel deeply are right make no impact. It feels like such a divide.

@clhendricksbc @karencang I hear you! So much of public disourse has become about controlling the narrative, regardless of facts or ethics. That has even crept into my university, where it seems some become more concerned with winning than with improving/building/learning.

@clhendricksbc It is definitely a struggle. I too have a really difficult time when facts, reason or logic have no impact. I am trying to learn from some people that I have witnessed actually changing the minds of trump supporters, or even white nationalists, by connecting with them emotionally, reaching their heart somehow. (says the scientist). A friend told me last night that she felt only art or music would really cause a shift. I don't know.

@karencang Connecting emotionally would make sense if connecting through reason and facts does not. I am guessing that there could be some shared desires/emotions, just with different beliefs about how to achieve goals. But that is assuming one shares a belief in basic human rights, equality, etc.

@karencang I think there's a mentality that goes with the culture of grades and the idea that grades are the goal - throughout education that then when ppl get to uni, it is such a task to teach them to think outside of everything, beyond. How many ppl ask what grade you got in a class when you apply for a job? Heck, in America they don't even classify degrees (as in UK) & still ppl worry abt grades. -is a mindset, but not unchangeable. takes time & care, & is harder than perpetuating grades...

@karencang it's complicated. My institution is home to the political scientists and economists that helped build policy for our previous republican-inspired prime minister. And also home to some of his more vocal critics. Home to tar sands extraction and renewable energy innovation. Higher ed is both status quo and progressive.

@dnorman @karencang I agree it's complicated. In US, I think the narrative has always been more about elitism/populism than liberal/non-lib. Historically the land-grant Uni's & CC's helped to dampen the anti-elitism (State U is "our" uni!), but as funding shifted to tuition & debt & away fr public purse in last 3-4 decades, even those uni's/CC's came to be seen as elitist because not really available.

@dnorman @clhendricksbc @fgraver @ShorterPearson @katebowles @Dan_Blick
Yes, it’s true @econproph . So how do we shift away from this place of elitism or inaccessibility? Obviously higher ed needs to be way less expensive. But we’ve gotten into a terrible cycle of ‘higher ed reputation as an expensive waste of time --> lower public funding--> higher tuition -->expensive waste of time reputation…’ How do we break this cycle? Does Open Ed offer some answers via influencing public opinion?

@karencang @dnorman @clhendricksbc @fgraver @ShorterPearson @katebowles @Dan_Blick This is a HARD question but a very important question - perhaps one of the most important in these times.
I have no answer now. But I will think on it and trust the little grey cells to listen to my friends and do the magic.

@karencang @dnorman @econproph I have this idealistic hope that the more we show people what we're doing in colleges & unis, through open education, the more they'll see the value of what we're doing. But then reality kicks in: more likely people will think: wow, if that's what they're wasting their time on, give them even less money! Will my showing of what we do in philosophy class change minds? Probably not. Which makes me sad.

@clhendricksbc @karencang @dnorman @econproph don't give up though, & don't underestimate the impact you could have - people in history who made a difference were only people too. I do think it will make a difference. may not be one we see immediately or in that place, but I believe it will happen.

@lauraritchie @dnorman @econproph @karencang I do keep doing it, and I'm a major open education proponent. But sometimes I think: I helping the humanities cause by showing the world what actually goes on in my classroom? Will those who don't already get the value of the humanities just use things like that as fuel for the fire to say the humanities are a waste of time? I still think the value outweighs the risk, though.

@clhendricksbc @dnorman @econproph @lauraritchie Hmm. This is an interesting thread. Does just opening up what we do in our classes (whether humanities or sciences) result in the public seeing the value just by observing? Or do we need to work harder to demonstrate our value maybe by including the people outside of our classes more deeply? via discussions? or more actively citizen science? or maybe citizen humanities?

@dnorman @econproph I agree @clhendricksbc that the value outweighs the risks, but also agree that ppl use it against what we do. Different, both creative & innovative are often seen as threats- esp in things where value is in the long game, so not necessarily visible in snapshot. As @karencangrating says, integrating ppl is definitely good - transparency & inclusivity help break down barriers of fear & preconceived lack of value

@karencang @dnorman @lauraritchie @clhendricksbc OpenEd is the exception. I suspect the skepticism of higher ed is more born of the secrecy. Classrooms and what most folks in higher ed do is a closed, black box. Outsiders project their fantasies onto it. I've had students be happy that I had them publicly "blog" so they could show parents & friends what they did.

@econproph @karencang @dnorman @clhendricksbc 'outsiders project their fantasies onto it' hits a lot of it on the head. blogs/a view in/ contact/ personal interaction so important so others can see first hand. -going to add that to list of how to get ss to blog - mine tend to think it's a great idea, but 'can't find time' as not assessed on it. ...but I tell them, most of what they do outside the assessment is where the value lies..

@karencang @dnorman @econproph @lauraritchie Citizen humanities...that's really interesting. Wonder what that might look like.

@clhendricksbc @dnorman @econproph @lauraritchie I was thinking about the idea of citizen humanities a little. Flash mobs came to mind. But there must be many ways that the public could be (or has been) incorporated into the construction of a humanities-based project- art, music, film, writing- in similar ways in which citizens help collect data for a scientific research project even if they don't design it?

@karencang @clhendricksbc @dnorman @econproph two unrelated thoughts that I'm trying to connect- the flash mob: 1. Monday I was given a town & invited to do a flashmob. Literally told consider the town centre as a performance venue. 2. citizens collecting data. I think of encouraging students to design/enact/integrate but hadn't considered the others as contributing participants to potential research. projects, but never considered research... cogs slowly turning (on a pre-dawn train to London)

@lauraritchie @karencang @dnorman @econproph Gotta spend time thinking about this. Was busy all day today & again tomorrow. Will return to it when I can!

@blamb hasn't happened yet- guy responsible for regeneration/arts/civic engagement just randomly offered it to me- I have to think of what to do but have blank cheque (no money just figure of speech) to be creative. all permissions granted 😱 first thoughts are Ravel's Bolero 😊

wish I could tag the others in that conversation- am on phone, giving talk this morning 😳 (nervous)

@lauraritchie - I wish I could be at your talk. I could use some inspiration.

@blamb autotweeting it in a couple of hours ... they've asked for a timed 7 min speech. an hour would be easier...

@lauraritchie - I can't even introduce my topic in seven minutes! On another note, I can't understand why I never get invited to do talks anymore!

@blamb I want to be invited more. I'll invite you! :) am sure we can fit in a guest lecture around OER17 if you're in the country that long...

@lauraritchie @blamb 7 minutes is barely time to warm up! That would be a huge challenge for me... Crossing fingers and sending positive thoughts that it goes well :)

@fgraver @lauraritchie @blamb Sometimes I can almost get the title slide introduced in 7 mins... but the whole thing? Sheesh. That's like impossible and messin' with the space-time fabric thing IMO.

@econproph @fgraver @lauraritchie to be fair to @blamb he may take 7 minutes to set out the thesis of his talk, but he will show nine mindblowing full-screen gifs during this period.

@clhendricksbc @karencang @econproph all we can do is show the awesome stuff that is happening, and keep doing interesting and important work. We're just getting started. Eg.

@karencang I wonder if part of the problem is a growing divide between "knowledge" in academia & the rest of the world?

Most non-academics "know" according to what they have experienced- by doing. It seems to me academics "know" by reading.

I *think* that if we're really going to change beliefs outside academia, a starting point might be to *hear* what non-academics "know" and why they "know" it and to respect these other ways of knowing.

@Tdorey I know many others have written about 'ways of knowing', Women's ways of knowing by Belenky et al. comes to mind for me mostly. But if we can at least agree that knowledge should be based on factual evidence that is strongly substantiated, (as opposed to hunches or beliefs or feelings or willfulness), then perhaps it becomes about WHAT we know or choose to inform ourselves about. Maybe we as academics have a greater responsibility to know more about things we have been ignoring.?

@karencang I struggle with this whole topic. Following my beliefs allowed harm to occur & yet it was ultimately "trusting my gut" that saved us from further harm. It was only later that the facts caught up with the gut feeling.

I now accept facts can change beliefs, but beliefs also change the facts. We omit, ignore & rationalize to make facts fit our beliefs of what we perceive is & isn't possible.

Wondering... maybe it's the interaction between facts & beliefs that's too often ignored?

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!