Frank Shushok, Jr.
“I recently heard a metaphor about a driver who hit an icy patch and slid off the road toward a large tree. In total panic, the driver’s focus was on the tree, in order to do everything possible to miss it. This intuitive decision sealed her fate. What the driver needed to do in order to avert the impending accident was to focus on the road, to look squarely in the direction she wished to go.
In Peter Block’s book Community: The Structure of Belonging, he advises us to shift the conversations away from the problems of community by focusing on the possibilities. Though it seems as counterintuitive as looking away from the tree we are barreling toward, when times seem rough, conditions are ripe for colleges and universities to step in and do what we do best: shift culture, bolster hope, and design experiences—both curricular and co-curricular—that turn humans toward one another. This is our time to remake our culture, to design infrastructures that engage students in relationship building, in finding well-being, and in building a reservoir of empathetic concern for others. We can do this—it’s time to steer ourselves back on course.“
Penny Rue summarizes the research on Gen Z, the current generation of college-age students, and shares what the trends mean to educators. Members of Gen Z tend to be pragmatic about higher education and expect meaningful learning experiences supported by technology. They are highly tuned in to social media sites and may need support in face-to-face communication. While they are adept at sifting through large amounts of information
quickly (the “8 second filter”), they may not be as clever at recognizing the validity of that information. Given their customer service expectations (nurtured by Amazon’s model of responsiveness), we will need to develop our skills at meeting them where they inhabit the web.
Tara D. Hudson
Tara D. Hudson questions the potential of Duke’s new policy of
random roommate assignment to be successful in supporting learning about diversity. Hudson notes that with random roommate assignments, the conditions for attitude change are not necessarily met. There can be status differential and/or competition between the roommates as well as a lack of
institutional training or support. This last can appear to be the institution making minoritized students responsible for their peers’ education. More effective, according to Hudson’s research, would be living-learning communities that foster friendships based on shared interests and developmentally appropriate
support such as intergroup dialogue, intercultural training,
and intercultural learning partnerships between roommates.
Shelly L. Francis
Shelly L. Francis posits that we will need collective courage to truly embrace cultural diversity. So what is courage and can we cultivate it in ourselves and our students? First, we need more people with the skills to foster trust, especially with others
who are different. Perhaps not surprisingly, these people will also
need a strong sense of agency and voice, in other words, trust in
themselves. Francis suggests that we need to replace safe places with brave spaces that train and support us in facing challenging conversations. She suggests supporting everyone in our communities in connecting with one’s true self, fostering trust, developing community, embracing paradox, and perhaps,
most important, practicing reflection.
Views from Campus
Alan C. R. Mueller
Alan Mueller explores the tension between helping students reach
their career aspirations and being true to his personal and professional values of justice and equity. He identifies this as “inhabiting the gap,” that is, remaining in the discomfort of the ethical or moral dilemma. One way he does this is by practicing unconditional positive regard, a term he borrows from the
counseling profession. This attitude allows for relationships with students whose goals he finds troubling. He shares his conclusion that such connections provide the opportunity for him to challenge his students to explore potential employers for employment suitability, but also for their impact on our world.