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Weekly Review
April 15, 2022
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 Education Next:
A Research-Based Case For Transforming College
By Fredrick Hess
In The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be, Harvard professors Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner describe four “mental models” through which students view college, positing that a “transformational” outlook, in which students reflect on their own values and beliefs and expect to change in fundamental ways, provides the greatest benefit from the college experience. But in this reviewer’s eyes, that’s a circular argument: the conclusion that students deemed transformational actually benefit more from college is based only on the fact that these students spoke about college in a manner the researchers labeled transformational. Read this article
From The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Should Universities Take Political Stands?
By Brian Rosenberg
College campuses regularly face demands to take positions on polarizing issues while fielding competing complaints that speaking on such issues is inconsistent with the role of the university. The author explores the long history of this debate, noting that “it is possible to hide behind the guise of neutrality when the absence of action is in fact very clearly ‘a position.’” Moreover, in our deeply polarized time, when outside interference is coming at the university from both progressives and conservative alike, “every leader, every institution will need to decide whether neutrality is even a realistic choice.” Read this article
From Nature:
University culture wars over race theory recall 1920s fight to teach evolution
By Adam Laats
The current, heated discourse around critical race theory (CRT) reflects another “controversial” theory taught in classrooms 100-years ago: evolution. In 1921, there was a call to ban the teaching of evolution at public colleges and universities. But professors defeated the enabling legislation by arguing not on the distinction between science and religion, but rather that any law banning the teaching of evolution would spell demise for an institution’s legitimacy, quality, and status. Similar methods can be used today to confront laws that would constrain or ban the teaching of CRT. Read this article
From EdSurge:
An Unusual Way to Charge for College: Make It Voluntary
By Jeffery R. Young
Hope College, a small liberal arts school in Michigan, is testing out a new method to help students pay for their education: provide it for free in hopes they will pay it back in donations throughout their lives. The college is testing this pay-it-forward method on 22 students, and w­hile it is unconventional, the college’s president, Matthew Scogin, says it is working so far. He argues that this method will strengthen the alumni network and enable students to graduate debt free to pursue their dream jobs, rather than feeling trapped paying loans. Read this article

From The New York Times:
I’m a Conservative Professor Who Opposed Safe Spaces. I Was Wrong.
By Jon A. Shields
The author argues that, with data showing that 80 percent of students censor their classroom viewpoints at least some of the time, faculty need to take their student’s comfort far more seriously. Rather than debating free expression vs. safe spaces, they should design their version of safe spaces by more intentionally laying out the social norms governing classroom discussion. Such norms are the same customs and habits that enable people’s integration into the social order and communities. Making them explicit will “facilitate…our collective search for truth” by enabling students to engage in open inquiry. Read this article
The AKA Review will not be published next week.

It will resume the following week on April 29th.

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