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The 2017-18 Deans’ Colloquy was constituted by a diverse group of deans representing 11 schools in the USA and Canada. Drs. Deborah Krause (Eden Theological Seminary), Luis R. Rivera (Garrett-Evangelical Theological School), and Paul Myhre (Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion) were the facilitators. The group met ...
Persons new to the office of the Dean may soon discover the need to acquire a new set of skills to effectively carry out the job. Those skills range from supervision, pastoral care (yes, more than you imagined!), educational administrative planning, curriculum design and planning, political acumen, budgeting and financial ...
Organizing Academic Work in Higher Education Teaching, Learning and Identities
Date Reviewed: January 24, 2018
As much as teachers would like to argue to the contrary, the university is a business, an educational business to be specific. Universities, colleges, technical schools and the like are in the business of selling learning. They sell this product to those who see the need for education beyond the formative years, whether that be training in a trade or preparation for an occupation such as medicine, psychology, or religious service. Institutions of higher learning have been in existence for around a millennium, and have served as a tent pole artifact for institutional culture – universities have either set the bar of cultural progression or have fallen behind, sputtering to keep pace with the practitioners outside their hallowed walls who are establishing new trends and raising the bar set by the university.
We seem to be in a contextual epoch that is squarely set between each of these extremes. There is still a hushed reverence that comes from finding a peer who attended Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, or Emory. Many in the academic community clamor to hear special lectures from Continental colleagues who have attended or are employed by Oxford, the University of Paris, or the University of Amsterdam. In some pockets, simply having a college or graduate degree can still mean higher pay, positional advancement, or advanced social standing.
In the United States, we seem to be living in a time of both saturation and scarcity. Higher learning institutions are continually creating new and engaging programs to prepare interested individuals for securing employment in an ever-evolving, technologically-driven, globally-emerging marketplace. And yet the number of students seems to be shrinking as many weigh the cost of attending college or find that their career choice may not even require a college degree.
Responsiveness to the changes taking place in society and academic preparation for those changes is of concern for leaders at universities, colleges, and trade schools. On one hand, the administration crunches numbers and devises business strategies to ensure that the institution remains open. On the other hand, faculty craft courses and develop programs to ensure that teaching is what keeps the institution open. This is the discussion that editors Leisyte and Wilkesmann present before the reader. Assembling over twenty scholars from across the globe, this volume demonstrates that the New Public Management model can be used to successfully organize institutions of higher learning. In providing specific examples from Germany, China, the UK, and the Netherlands, as well as individual authors speaking out of their own experiences, this volume shows how academic managers can integrate business-based operational models with rubric-based educational models to promote academic integrity and marketplace relatability. Change will continue to be the one true constant of the educational universe, and this volume provides a good map for the road ahead.
What Teachers Need to Know: Topics in Diversity and Inclusion
Date Reviewed: January 22, 2018
What Teachers Need to Know (Etherington, 2017) is a substantial text defining the diverse and inclusive experiences of contemporary education systems. The book is a compilation with three major parts: “Ethics,” “Inclusion and Teacher Management,” and “Worldview and Story.” Each chapter provides reading questions for use in a classroom setting or for deeper reflection. This is well-suited for an audience in higher education, especially for readers who could share personal experiences with diversity and inclusion topics after a practicum or time teaching. I would recommend this book for a post-graduate education library.
The first part, “Ethics,” includes works by Sherick Hughes, Martyn Rouse, Jonathan Anuik, Chet Bowers, Eva Maria Waibel, the editor, Matthew Etherington, and James Dalziel. There is quite a range of topics in this section, but the Wabash Center reader might be particularly interested in Anuik\'s essay on faith-informed discourse. It is a study about the influence of missionary education on Indigenous beliefs, and how that reaches into Canadian public education today. It compels the reader to contemplate whether church and state can truly be separate in an educational context when there is such a significant inheritance of practice and values from a period dominated by religious influence.
Part Two, “Inclusion and Teacher Management,” includes works by Peter J. Froese, Ken Pudlas, Lucinda Spaulding, Karen Copeland, Bruce Shelvey, and Ken Bradley. Spaulding\'s essay reflects the current shift of attention to patterns of bullying and puts forward the mechanisms school communities can provide for the resiliency of the students. Other essays in this section discuss topics such as mental health, special needs, and even bring in the parents\' view on these issues as they exist in the educational system. This is an exceptional collection of essays on inclusivity.
The third and final part, “Worldview and Story,” includes works by the editor, Matthew Etherington, Edward R. Howe, Adam Forsyth, Leo Van Arragon, Christina Belcher, and Cynthia à Beckett. This section has the most obvious correlation to religious studies within educational contexts. Topics include: tolerance, science and religion, and epistemology. This section could serve as an excellent initial reading for students in a practical theology or other contemporized religious studies capstone course.
This book might not be a comfortable read in a public classroom, but maybe that is exactly why it should be read. Etherington\'s compilation offers academic theological reflection for secularized educational contexts. This book could be useful in a range of contexts. It may be particularly helpful to new teachers, parent associations, pastors of students, and community leaders.
Enhancing Student Learning and Development in Cross-Border Higher Education (New Directions for Higher Education, Number 175)
Date Reviewed: October 18, 2017
This volume is dedicated to cross-border education, a type of internationalization focused on education strategies that move across national and regional lines. Editors Roberts and Komives cite J. Knight’s description of internationalization as “the process of integrating an international, intercultural, or global dimension into the purpose, functions, or delivery of postsecondary education” (10). Internationalization, at first blush, may appear but a mere euphemism for globalization, a rather deleterious concept especially when partnered with education. Roberts and Komives, however, are quick to point out how internationalization differs from globalization in both purpose and process. Globalization promotes rampant product production, increased uniformity, the ubiquity of certain products and hegemonic narratives, and is often associated with the pernicious effects of the exploitation of vulnerable populations around the world. In contrast, “internationalization is a process of infusing international ideas across a variety of functions and experiences” in which “distinct attributes of identity are accorded value” (10). Internationalization, according to Roberts, “embraces the inevitable – a shrinking planet with growing shared reliance on each other” but also seeks to preserve culture (10). Cross-border education (CBE) goes beyond the traditional study abroad mindset; it requires “infusing international, cultural, or comparative perspectives in existing courses,” “modifying teaching and learning processes through virtual experiences,” and incorporating scholarship from other cultural settings to bring the world “home” to students within their own schools (16). It also encourages fluidity of people, programs, projects, and policies across national and regional lines and places a high premium on critical analysis of the cross-cultural application of educational practices.
Section one addresses how to systematically study educational practices and evaluate their transferability to a different context. Darbi Roberts’ contribution requires readers to address how and why educational systems choose from which programs to borrow. Section two illustrates examples of student learning and development programs around the world (South Africa, China, UK, Mexico, and more) created to address specific populations and needs within their own cultural and national boundaries but which may prove incredibly useful for others throughout the world. Previously, much research on student learning and development originated in the United States, but this volume highlights the growing programs in other parts of the globe. McGlory Speckman writes about first-year village programs in South Africa, where this program was developed, and the need of many students from backgrounds of “economic, social, and political deprivation” for a communal and supportive environment as they transition to a university setting (34). Wong’s chapter is a fascinating foray into a unique population in China, students born under China’s 1979 One Child Policy, whose disruptive adjustment to university life requires universities to set up programs addressing this population’s lack of compromising skills and enhance their resiliency and self-reliance. These programs include everything from complicated team work, physical training, and mentorship to a simulation activity called the “city challenge” in which “students are given very limited pocket money and they have to earn their food by selling products they invent” (45). Chapter 5 focuses on a specific program at the University of Sheffield, UK, dedicated to “looked-after children” and “care leavers” (49). Encouraging this population towards higher education is a real challenge, as “only around 6% of English care leavers enter higher education at the age of 19, compared to 48% of a similar age in the general population” (53). Mexico’s legacy of political corruption, financial disparity between rich and poor, and a general lack of civically engaged citizens have created a challenging environment for local universities trying to educate their students to become leaders, according to Alicia Canton’s chapter. The Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM) has invested in numerous initiatives to encourage students to become involved in their communities such as implementing active pedagogies “connecting the student to current problems within the local community,” requiring every student to complete an internship at a local organization, offering cocurricular courses to develop leadership competencies, and mandating “every student perform 480 hours of service” (59-60).
Section III moves readers back into the realm of theory, providing analytical tools for exploring data produced in specific student learning and development environments like those described in Section II. This section exemplifies how those designing initiatives to enhance student learning and development, especially in the arena of cross-border education (CBE), must explore the significance of context as well as content. Readers are prompted to explore prevalent cultural assumptions, national agendas, and various socio-political discourses which have informed and shaped their own definitions of learning and development, as well as those of the programs they wish to adopt or adapt. Broido and Schreiber’s chapter presents social justice frameworks for student learning and development as well as concise renderings of various pertinent dimensions of student development theories (identity development, cognitive-structural development, and self-authorship theories). Drawing on the work of Hofer and Weinstock, Broido and Schreiber note how “patterns of epistological development vary among cultures” and how cultural assumptions about knowledge, truth, and authority, can profoundly affect how students learn and develop (70). The general values of a culture “as well as the role of the family, religion, and social identity enhances a critical perspective on designing appropriate strategies for student learning and development” (75). Chapter 8 applies an ecological systems view to Singapore, a culture that highly values formal education, an attribute likely stemming from a belief among families that education is a passport out of poverty. Deference to elders and authority, possibly arising from a Confucian root in the culture, are attributes which lead to a particular learning environment, not unique to Singapore but definitely significant when considering program adoption across borders. Chen’s and Mathies’ contribution looks at increased interest in assessment and evaluation in the halls of higher education, in the U.S. and around the world, over the last few decades. The fact that college admission in many Asian cultures is controlled by the government via a national entrance exam, exemplifies just another way in which U.S., European, and Asian institutions approach education differently (89). Formerly faculty and now on staff as an academic advisor, I fully concur with the authors of chapter 10 that “in a cross-border educational paradigm, it is increasingly important for faculty and staff to orient their work and self-understanding of their roles to be that of educators” (93). The need for internationally competent staff will only become more critical in the future.
Roberts and Komives close their volume with a look at how partnerships can enhance student learning and development by taking into consideration institutional motivations for transferring, adapting, hedging, or even avoiding certain programs or policies. Some aspects of student learning and development programs (such as career decision making, counseling, intercollegiate sports, student governance, fraternities and sororities, coed housing, and so forth) may work well in the “home” country but prove disastrous when transplanted into another environment. This volume will prove illuminating to any student affairs professional, academic advisor, study abroad or exchange coordinator, faculty, or administer within higher education today but it is especially germane to those directly or even tangentially involved with policy adoption across borders.