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AKA Review
September 8, 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 Abandoning Civics, Colleges Helped Create the Culture Wars
By Debra Satz and Den Edelstein
The authors suggest we will strengthen free speech on campuses when we provide students with “civic education” that exposes them to the democratic skills they need to live in a diverse society. Once a part of required first-year curricula, civic education, a public good, waned as universities adopted a free-market ideology in the 1960s, emphasizing individual choice and ending common requirements. For free speech to thrive, universities must return new forms of civic education to their curricula, teaching students how to evaluate contrary viewpoints and engage constructively with those they disagree with. Read this article.
From Inside Higher Education
By Johanna Alonso
Colleges promote their value in financial terms; however, the general population remains skeptical in the face of a robust job market and rising tuition prices. A new report from the Lumina Foundation and Gallup reveals benefits of higher education far beyond jobs and earnings: in personal health, civic engagement, and relationships. Might emphasis on these benefits attract more students to college? While further research is needed, the report is an important first step in countering the usual financial arguments and convincing people to consider non-fiscal factors in deciding whether to attend college. Read this article.
From The New York Times
By Zeynep Tufekci
Despite predictions of a “Lord of the Flies” scenario at the Burning Man festival this year, thousands stranded by massive rain and mud banded together to share shelter, food, and water. The author documents similar cooperation in real-life ocean-island strandings and her own experiences in Turkey’s 1999 earthquake. Terrible human behavior is not human nature revealed once the veneer of civilization wears off, she argues but instead “atrocities are organized through the institutions of civilization: politics, culture, and militaries”—and the same institutions can also be enlisted to resist this dehumanization. Read this article.
From The Atlantic
By Lora Kelley
Want an argument for the humanities that your students will instinctively get? Anyone who’s read William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) or Orwell’s 1984 (1949) understands how science fiction anticipates technology. The scientists and educators quoted here highlight “a feedback loop between cultural output and technology,” arguing that “sci-fi is an extremely valuable asset for students—our future researchers—because it illustrates a spectrum of futures, good and bad.” In response, the author notes “If art and technology have an invention feedback loop, perhaps they could develop an ethical one, too.” Read this article.
From New America
Varying Degrees 2023: New America’s Seventh Annual Survey on Higher Education
By Sophie Nguyen, Rachel Fishman, Olivia Cheche
An essential reference for understanding how Americans view post-secondary education. The survey’s core focus is the value placed on higher education, how it should be funded, and how institutions are held accountable. This year it digs deeper into higher ed’s benefits to individuals and to society as a whole as well as whether students can equitably access college. Most striking is that so many Americans believe an undergraduate degree leads to greater financial stability, stronger civic engagement, and improved public health yet at the same time view college as unaffordable for everyone who wishes to enroll. Read this article.
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