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AKA Review
August 25, 2023
At AKA, we closely follow trends and latest developments
in higher education and the nonprofit sector.

Here are some recent articles and reports that we found particularly informative.
From The New York Times
By Ben Wildavsky
College degrees are increasingly irrelevant, the current argument goes, since many people have the skills necessary for white-collar roles yet lack the formal college degree often required. Education writer Ben Wildavsky pushes back with data showing that the financial advantage of getting a college degree (compared to a high-school diploma) is at an all-time high and with studies showing the preference of employers for applicants with traditional degrees. Skills-based credentials should be widely accessible, he concludes, but students should be able to combine them into two-or four-year degrees. Read this article

From The Atlantic
How America Got Mean
By David Brooks
New York Times columnist David Brooks argues in this thoughtful essay that in a culture devoid of moral education, many Americans are growing up in a morally inarticulate, self-referential society. He traces the growth of morally formative institutions from the nation’s founding through their near demise in the 20th century. Keenly aware of the sexism, racism, and shaming that have historically accompanied moral education, he proposes a set of "necessities" for building morally formative institutions that are right for the 21st century. Read this article
From Foreign Affairs
Artificial Intelligence for the Poor
By Daniel Björkegren
Columbia professor Daniel Björkegren contrasts the West’s fear that AI will replace highly-paid knowledge workers with the developing world where, he argues, the most transformative AI will open such new possibilities as an AI-powered financial planner for subsistence farmers to manage the risks in decisions about what to plant. He points to challenges—scarcity of developing-world data for training new models, control of AI by a small number of tech firms, and the vulnerability of the poor to AI biases and abuses—and concludes that nearly all discussion of AI has centered on rich countries. It is now time to think through an AI agenda for everyone else. Read this article

From Harvard Business Review
By Greg Satell
Leaders are often surprised when they try to convince everyone at once—skeptics along with the already enthusiastic—and see their transformative initiatives fail. Author Greg Satell cites studies showing that convincing a majority is unnecessary for change—including one noting that getting 10-20 percent of a group to adopt an innovation stimulates rapid acceptance by the remainder. Thus, beginning with only a small portion of a population but one in which the majority wants to see an initiative succeed is a powerful base for influencing others and transforming an entire organization. Read this article
From The Atlantic
By Xochitl Gonzalez
The author, a low-income Ivy League student of color in the ‘90s, recalls dreaming of a different future for such places of privilege in which her children would be legacies. "Now that we’re finally on the inside, they’re shutting the door?" she asks of the current assault on legacy admissions. She argues that, without affirmative action in place, these seats would simply go to the white and well-off rather than making room for low-income students of color. And, as the number of nonwhite legacies grows, ending legacy admissions would harm some it means to help. Read this article
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