Talking about higher education, the future, and climate change at Culture Study

Culture Study logoThis week an interview with me appears in Anne Helen Peterson‘s Culture Study newsletter.  The excellent Colleen Murphy asked me good questions about higher education, climate change, Universities on Fire, and the future.

Peterson’s introduction includes this passage, which offered some good perspective on how people think skeptically about higher education:

…when I first read some of the ideas here, I balked. Not because they aren’t good, but because I’m so used to thinking of what academia has *not* been able to accomplish and how precarity disincentivizes change. There are reasons why I’m inclined to think that, based both in my experience but also my peers’ and my parents’ experience in public higher ed, particularly in a state whose legislature would gladly eliminate it altogether.

Note the range of reasons she offers for being disinclined to see colleges and universities acting boldly.

In contrast, she then offered this passage about futures thinking and imagination:

But I also have to remember that you can’t create change if you can’t think it, can’t imagine it, can’t articulate it. I realized: I have to allow myself to imagine what this hopeful futurism would look like. I hope you allow yourself, too.

That’s a great way of describing what futures work can do.

Murphy’s questions are great, and I want to draw attention to one in particular.  I don’t think people treat this one often enough:

As is often the case in higher education, some of this seems easier for the richest universities. For example, you write about how colleges could design new buildings or relocate campuses entirely to avoid rising sea levels. But, climate change aside, there are also many institutions struggling financially, and many colleges already have a backlog of campus construction projects.

How will climate change further exacerbate the “haves and have nots” in the higher education system? And, how is that playing out already?

I started off with the Matthew effect and went on from there. But I’d like to hear reader’s thoughts on this topic as well, as well as on the other points we addressed.

Many thanks to both Anne Helen and Colleen for the discussion and the venue!

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1 Response to Talking about higher education, the future, and climate change at Culture Study

  1. Felix says:

    Good piece on a topic I like – a lot. My attention is specifically drawn to the question of how higher education responds to rising climate crisis. Should faculty move universities to newer more resilient locations or would they redesign buildings ?
    This question was also entertained in recent conference hosted by the Institute of Education, University of Nigeria.
    I admit there are no quick fixes for these problems nor easy solutions, but I am happy that the level of climate consciousness that is presently entertaining ‘thinking’ in this direction is good.

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