Politics, free speech, diversity, and the narrative of a changing time not only permeated the national conversation, but also dominated discussions, debates, and articles about higher education in 2017.
In what has become an annual SimpsonScarborough tradition, here is our list of articles from the past year that are worthy of a re-read (or maybe first read if you’ve been as busy as we have!).
- A change in presidential administrations can bring about a shift in priorities. This is especially true when the newly elected president comes from a different party. Vox looked at how Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in her less-than-one-year tenure, has already made her mark on higher education in the U.S., impacting for-profit colleges, sexual assault guidelines, student debt, and more.
- Groundskeeper. Mechanic. Secretary to the Board. Interlibrary Loan Manager. Social Media Manager. The Chronicle of Higher Education profiled five people who operate in these positions for a compelling look into some of the most underappreciated people that keep institutions running. (Reminder to check the holiday-card list one more time.)
- An issue that sparked numerous think pieces this year was free speech on campus. In an effort to add its voice to the debate, The Washington Post explored poll data on Americans’ opinions regarding free speech on college campuses. While findings indicate general support, it’s a complicated issue, and the answers are not always clear-cut.
- Institutions of higher education in the U.S. have been accused throughout the years of secularizing the American public. FiveThirtyEight challenged that assumption with data that shows that, today, many Americans who are leaving religion are doing so before they even step foot on campus.
- One issue that will surely continue to make headlines in 2018 is the GOP tax plan and its potential impacts on higher education. The Chronicle outlined how various stakeholders, including institutions themselves, could and would be affected by the proposed bill.
- Vox addressed an issue that is a sign of changing times with an explainer article that explores whether transgendered students can go to women’s colleges.
- The New York Times laid out the reality many institutions are facing in the Trump-era when it comes to foreign student applications — 40% of colleges saw a drop in applications as early as three months into Trump’s presidency.
- There is power in language. This year, Yale took steps to stop usage of words that are not gender-inclusive — a step that might become a trend in the coming years. Inside Higher Ed told the story.
- The Chronicle published one of the more controversial articles of the year — an article that likened colleges’ digital marketing tactics targeting applicants, parents, and lawmakers to the tactics the Russians used to interfere in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. (Needless to say, there are a few responses worth reading.)
- According to the most recent complete data for the U.S. (fall of 2012), 25% of students took at least one online course. But as new media expert and NYU journalism professor Clay Shirky pointed out, no one noticed that the digital revolution in higher education has already happened.
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