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Friday, July 21, 2017

Bringing the Revolution Home: Transforming Higher Education


The American higher education system was born in revolution—the Industrial Revolution that reshaped the world in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century.  Today, the system is in the midst of another revolution—the Global Information Revolution—that has implications as great, if not greater, than its counterpart.  The question before us is fundamental:  What is the role of the public university in this new environment?
            The original American college was dedicated to the classical curriculum of the Enlightenment.  Students were drawn from the social and economic elite of the new country.  Its purpose, as the famous Yale Report of 1829 described, was “the discipline and furniture of the mind.”  However, as the Industrial Revolution matured in mid-century, it became clear that a new kind of educational vision was needed if the United States was to make the most of industrial innovations.  State governments began to fund public colleges and universities in order to prepare young people to take on new careers in engineering, science, and business; to create professionals in the new social science fields that had arisen due to urbanization; to train teachers who were needed to educate the children of immigrants who were flooding into the new industrial cities to work in the mills; and, not the least, to improve life in rural America and help farmers improve agricultural production desperately needed to feed the new urban populations.  The combination of new professional education needs and the emerging research mission re-organized the academy around disciplines, and that, in turn, re-defined the curriculum.
            The first half of the twentieth century saw the fulfillment of the Industrial Revolution as nations mobilized industry to fight two world wars.  The period also saw the beginnings of the Information Revolution.  Radio and television revolutionized communications and World War II saw the birth of the computer age that dramatically changed how we relate to information and to each other.  The wars also transformed society, bringing longstanding political and cultural assumptions to an end and setting the stage for new global relationships and social identities.  The development—and use—of the atomic bomb challenged traditional international relations and ushered in a new age. In response, higher education institutions launched a number of curricular innovations in the general undergraduate curriculum. 
            After the Second World War, President Truman, concerned about the stability of democratic society in the new age, created a Commission on Higher Education.  In its 1947 report, the Commission noted the global disruption caused by the World Wars and the rise of atomic weapons.  “It is essential today,” wrote the Commission, “that education come decisively to grips with the world-wide crisis of mankind.  This is no careless or uncritical use of words.  No thinking person doubts that we are living in a decisive moment of human history” (p. 6).  One result of the wars, the Commission maintained, was growing internationalism.  “In speed of transportation and communication and in economic interdependence the nations of the globe already are one world; the task is to secure recognition and acceptance of this oneness in the thinking of the people, so that the concept of one world may be realized psychologically, socially, and in good time politically” (p. 16).
            The Commission recommended several major steps to increase the number of citizens who receive higher education and to ensure that their education prepared them to live in this dangerous new world.  Over the next few decades, the Commission’s ideas influenced the development of the nation’s community college system, along with the GI-Bill and state and federal scholarship and loan programs that greatly expanded the number of high school graduates able to attend college.  It also stimulated “area studies” programs that increased understanding of the emerging global economy.  The Commission’s emphasis on adult education stimulated the development of continuing education programs and adult degree programs.  Several states developed new colleges—Empire State College in New York, the University of Maryland University College, and Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey are examples—devoted entirely to educating adults.
                  The decades that followed the Truman Commission report saw dramatic changes. Some—the space race and the war in Vietnam, for instance—reflected a long-term cold war between western democracies and communist nations.  The Middle East emerged as a continuing cultural, economic, and military hot spot. The period also saw the youth movement, the fight for civil rights and equal rights, and the invention of the Internet and personal computing. 
            In 1995, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (now the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities) received grants from the Kellogg Foundation to fund another commission to examine the future of public higher education in this new environment.  Over the next four years, the Kellogg Commission produced six reports  designed to help public institutions revitalize their public missions.  The first five reports focused on the student experience, student access, engagement with the public, creating a learning society, and the campus culture. 
            The final report explored the need to reinvigorate the partnership—the “covenant”—between the public and its universities “in a new and dangerous world.”  It noted that, as the nation entered a new century, “the promise of American higher education must be made in a new era and a completely different world.”  It noted the growing financial inequality in society, the breakdown of old disciplinary identities, blurring of distinctions between secondary and undergraduate education, and the surge of new technologies that “may erase the boundaries between the university and the nation and, indeed the world.” (Restoring the Covenant, p.33)
            These ideas have become global imperatives.  In May 2017, the European Commission issued a “renewed EU agenda for higher education” that noted:
Higher education plays a unique role. Demand for highly skilled, socially engaged people is both increasing and changing. In the period up to 2025, half of all jobs are projected to require high-level qualifications. High-level skills gaps already exist. Driven by digital technology, jobs are becoming more flexible and complex. People’s capacities to be entrepreneurial, manage complex information, think autonomously and creatively, use resources, including digital ones, smartly, communicate effectively and be resilient are more crucial than ever. Europe also needs more high achievers who can develop the cutting edge technologies and solutions on which our future prosperity depends. In parallel, countering the growing polarisation of our societies and distrust of democratic institutions calls on everyone — including higher education staff and students — to engage more actively with the communities around them and promote social inclusion and mobility (p.2).

            The EU agenda reflects some of the same concerns as the Kellogg Commission.  It listed four “priorities for action”: 

1. Tackling future skills mismatches and promoting excellence in skills development; 
2. Building inclusive and connected higher education systems; 
3. Ensuring higher education institutions contribute to innovation; 
4. Supporting effective and efficient higher education systems. 

            What do these reports, spanning seven decades from the transition from the Industrial Revolution to the maturation of the global information society, suggest in terms of next steps for public higher education?  The following possibilities reflect some recent innovations that have not yet been mainstreamed.  Many of them assume that universities will fully embrace information technology to meet the need.  They are, at minimum, a starting point for transforming higher education to meet the needs of the new society that has emerged since World War II.
A New Relationship between Schooling and Higher Education
            The Truman Commission was very clear in its proposal to extend universal high school from 12 to 14 years, thus encompassing the first two years of the baccalaureate degree.  The result would be a great equalizing of educational benefit as suggested by the Kellogg Commission and ensuring that more citizens leave education with the higher level of qualifications needed by today’s economy.  The rise of online learning over the past two decades has begun to provide a pathway to this goal.  The following examples suggest the potential:
1.     The use of college and university Open Educational Resources (OERs)—in many cases drawn from online higher education courses—to empower high school teachers to deepen and enrich important subjects in their high school classrooms.
2.     The use of undergraduate online (and traditional) courses as “dual enrollment” courses that allow high school students to simultaneously earn high school and university credit, helping students make the transition to college more quickly and less expensively.
New Approaches to the Curriculum
            A basic truth of the Information Revolution is that education is no longer about the transfer of knowledge from the instructor to the student.  Knowledge— in the sense of “content”—is everywhere.  The educational challenge is not simply knowledge transfer.  Instead, the challenge in the Information Age is to help students learn how to find and evaluate information, turn it into useful knowledge, apply that knowledge to solve problems, and evaluate the results. 
            A key innovation in this area has been the Community of Inquiry approach.  Developed at Athabasca University, it builds on foundational ideas of Charles Peirce and John Dewey.  As the Athabasca innovators describe it, a Community of Inquiry is “a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.”
The educational experience is the interaction of three “presences”:  teaching, cognition, and social interaction.  While the model is certainly facilitated by technology, it can be implemented in any group learning environment.
New Inter-Institutional Partnerships
            When the model for our public universities was developed in the 19th century, physical isolation was a problem.  Faculty expertise at all levels had to be on-site for teaching and for community engagement, if not always for research.  This ensured that each institution did its best to attract faculty who were experts in content areas and research that mattered most to the local community.  But it also left gaps where faculty expertise was not readily available.  Today, we are beginning to see institutions use information technology to create new relationships across institutions and across state boundaries to ensure that institutions can bring the best resources to bear to meet local needs.  One example is the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA). http://www.gpidea.org/   This consortium of 19 public universities in 18 U.S. states works to develop graduate degree programs that are delivered at a distance and that include courses taught by faculty from multiple member institutions.  Students enroll at the institution of their choice and receive their degree from that institution, but take courses from several different institutions.  The goal is to ensure that, regardless of location, the student will have the benefit of specialized knowledge and experience from faculty at multiple universities.  The program has operated since 1994 and has become a model for institutional cooperation in this arena.
            Another innovation is the Big Ten Alliance’s CourseShare, which allows students at member universities to take courses through technology from other member universities.  The advantages are described as follows:
Faculty enjoy the CourseShare program for the chance to collaborate with respected peers at Big Ten Academic Alliance universities, expand course enrollments with talented students, employ new technologies, fill curricular gaps, preserve specialized courses, and strengthen student recruitment efforts. Students enjoy the opportunity to take specialized courses offered at other Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions from a distance, eliminating the need to temporarily relocate. 

            Such partnerships, be they within a family of institutions or across sectors, offer institutions opportunities to prepare students for work in areas that may be new to their home economy.
Inter-Sector Partnerships
            Similar partnerships are emerging between public universities and other sectors, especially employers, to ensure that key employee groups have access to technical and professional education.  Examples of these partnerships date back to the 1980s, when National Technological University (NTU) brought together a network of universities and engineering companies to offer professional graduate education to company employees via satellite.  NTU was eventually sold and later integrated into Walden University, a for-profit educational provider. A more recent example is the Energy Providers Coalitionfor Education (EPCE) a collaborative of 2,500 energy-related companies, government offices, unions, and suppliers whose employees receive online educational services from four public universities around the country. 
            As these examples suggest, information technology makes it possible for sustainable, long-term cross-sector partnerships that bring sometimes very specialized expertise to working professionals over a wide range of companies and geographic locations.
Internationalization
            One obvious facet of the global information society is that it is, in fact, global.  The underlying challenge for higher education is to prepare students to work as professionals in a global community.  However, another facet is that we need to prepare our international students to be successful in their home communities.  Too often, especially at the graduate level, higher education serves to encourage the brain drain that takes talented people away from developing countries.   Here, again, we are seeing models designed to reverse brain drain.  A good example is the “sandwich” doctorate.  In this approach, a faculty member from an international university who wants to earn a U.S. doctorate will (1) take initial courses at her home institution, (2) move to the U.S. institution for the second year of course work, and (3) return the home institution to conduct her research.  The result is that the person is able to grow within her home institution, while creating new research partnerships between the two institutions.
Mainstreaming Innovation
            The information revolution has matured considerably over the past two decades.  As this posting suggests, there have been many innovations designed to help institutions be more effective in the new environment.  However, if these are to help guide the system as a whole in this new environment, they need to become mainstreamed.  We need, for instance, accreditation standards for multi-institution degree programs, standards for the mountain of informal credentials—“badges,” etc.—that are being offered by institutions.  We need agreements between universities and employers for lifelong learning programs that employees take on new responsibilities.  And so forth.  The challenge to regional and professional accrediting associations, higher education institutional membership associations, and other bodies is to derive from these innovations standards that will encourage institutions to move innovation into the mainstream of their educational, research, and service missions.
A New Societal Engagement
            As we consider these changes, we must also consider a broader, more fundamental change issue: the nature of the community in which students are being prepared to live.  Many of the early engagement innovations of the industrial period were designed either to integrate immigrants into growing urban communities or to “keep’em down on the farm” by making rural life more appealing in a time when electrification and other services were attracting people to cities.  Today, we are seeing a dramatic change in our sense of cultural identity.  Increasingly, education is not geared to send young people back to the family farm, the family business, or to take their place in their home community; instead, the goal is to prepare them for professions that may require them to move away.  As Wendell Berry wrote in a 1988 essay, “According to the new norm, the child’s destiny is not to succeed the parents, but to outmode them; succession has given way to supersession. . . The child is not educated to return home and be of use to the place and community; he or she is educated to leave home and earn money in a provisional future that has nothing to do with place or community.” (What are People For, p. 162).  In essence, many small communities across the nation are experiencing their own brain drain in the new economy.  The three reports described above emphasize that our public institutions must not only prepare individuals for professions, but, in the process, prepare them as citizens for life in a new global society.  This requires a fresh commitment to the community service mission—a mission that interacts with the teaching and research functions.  Our definition of “community” is evolving as a global culture takes root.  Our public institutions must not only prepare individual students for new professions, but also help local communities find their way in this new environment and help students develop their sense of citizenship, both in their home communities and in the broader geographic and economic communities in which local success is increasingly tied. This is central to the social purpose of public higher education. It should be part of the context in which many of the recent innovations are mainstreamed.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Toward a Learning Society


Over the past few years, our public colleges and universities have made great strides in adopting online technology to extend undergraduate and graduate degree programs to working adults away from campus.  This has allowed adults to gain the skills and credentials that they need to adapt to the new working requirements of a maturing global information society.  It has also created new revenue streams for universities to support innovation.  Now, it is time for public colleges and universities to explore how they can use the same technologies to revitalize their traditional service missions and to foster true lifelong learning.  This posting will explore some opportunities for online-based lifelong learning as part of the public university’s social engagement mission.
First, a Look Back
Our public colleges and universities have their roots in the Industrial Revolution.  They were invented to facilitate the changes that were needed as the country shifted from a rural economy to an industrial economy.  Industrialization stimulated two big events.  The first was urbanization.  Most factories were either started in cities or created cities around themselves, attracting families from farms to move closer.  The second was immigration; people came from all over Europe and Asia to find a future in the new economy.  They flooded into the cities.  This caused several problems.  One was a concern that our agricultural system was not robust enough to feed the growing urban population.  A second was the need to educate the children of immigrants, to make them full citizens in the process.  State and federal government responded by creating new institutions—normal schools—to train the many teachers needed to educate the new urban children and by creating the Agricultural Extension Service—housed in the new land grant universities.  And there were other issues, of course.  Some of these gave rise to new academic disciplines, things like sociology and social psychology, which found places in the new universities, along with engineering, business, and applied sciences, needed to keep the revolution moving ahead.  These are the foundations of the system of state colleges and universities that has dominated education in many of the United States for the past century and more.
            For the past several decades, these assumptions about higher education have been challenged as the Information Revolution gained force, bringing with it powerful social changes.  In 2001, the Kellogg Foundation released reports from a commission that it had charged to explore the role of higher education in this new environment.  The Commission on the Future of State and Land Grant Universities looked at five dimensions of quality:  the student experience, student access, social engagement, a learning society, and the campus culture.  The Commission argued that “our institutions must play an essential role in making lifelong learning a reality in the United States.”  Noting that technology was now able to make lifelong learning a reality, the Commission noted, “We are convinced that public research universities must be leaders in a new era of not simply increased demand for education, but rather of a change so fundamental and far-reaching that the establishment of a true ‘learning society’ lies within our grasp.”  The Commission described several characteristics of a learning society:
·      It fosters the habits of lifelong learning and “ensures that there are responsive and flexible learning programs and learning networks available to address all students’ needs.”
·      “It is socially inclusive and ensures that all of its members are part of its learning communities.”
·      It recognizes that lifelong learning begins with early childhood development and organizes “ways of enhancing the development of all children.”
·      It uses information technology as tools for “tailoring instruction to societal, organizational, and individual needs.”
·      “It stimulates the creation of new knowledge through research and other means of discovery.”
·      “It values regional and global interconnections and cultural links.”
·      "It fosters public policy to support equitable access and recognizes that investments in learning contribute to overall competitiveness and the economic and social well-being of the nation.”

In the years since the report, Returning to Our Root, was published, higher education has, for the most part, focused its use of information technology on extending undergraduate and graduate degree programs to students away from campus.   There have been some efforts in the noncredit arena—development of MOOCs as noncredit courses and sharing of Open Educational Resources (OERs) – but the greatest innovations, affecting the most institutions, has been in credit-based programs.  Meanwhile, traditional noncredit programs at many institutions have struggled.
            The challenge for the coming decade will be to explore how information technology can be used to fulfill the social engagement and lifelong learning challenges articulated by Returning to Our Roots and, in the process, to re-imagine the role of public higher education in sustaining a learning society in an era marked by cultural and economic globalization.  The rest of this piece will suggest a few starting points.
Re-Imagining Undergraduate Education
While many of the ideas to follow deal with noncredit and informal learning—the traditional venue of continuing education units in our universities—I’d like first to describe a key step in creating a true lifelong learning system:  redefining undergraduate education as a launching point for lifelong learning.  In the industrial period, society gradually expanded primary and secondary education; high school moved from being a pricey option to a publically funded expectation.  We need a similar expansion to prepare students to succeed—as citizens and professionals—in the new environment.  Elements might include:
·      A K-14 curriculum that makes the first two years of higher education—combining traditional “general” education and introductory professional/vocational education—free to the student.
·      A Year of Service that would take place between the twelfth and thirteenth years, so that young adults begin their higher education with a better understanding of the working world and the needs of the community in which they live and work.  This might include work in state/national parks, hospitals, libraries and other community organizations with the service helping to offset the cost of the next two years of instruction), or it might include a practicum with a local employer or service in the military, Peace Corps, or other societal contribution.
·      Periodic internships or practica in the student’s chosen vocation/profession as part of the undergraduate experience, so that students become familiar with the expectations of the field in which they are studying.
·      Involvement of alumni to help students prepare for their careers.
·      As students complete their undergraduate programs and move into their careers, the institution should help them make the transition by providing noncredit seminars and access to an online learning community for transitioning professionals.  The learning community would give the new professional access to faculty, alumni, and other transitioning students to help solve problems and to learn about new developments in the field. 
Noncredit Lifelong Learning in the Online Learning Era
Sadly, many of the less formal kinds of lifelong learning that defined “continuing education” for much of the 20th century have faded in recent years, due in no small part to the new emphasis on delivery of credit programs to off-campus adults.  However, if our public universities are to fulfill their public mission, we need to take a fresh look at how our institutions, our research centers, and our faculty engage key constituencies and ensure that citizens can continue to benefit from learning throughout their lives. In recent years, this function has taken a back seat to innovations around online degree programs.  However, these noncredit and sometimes nonformal learning opportunities are key to the vision of the public university in a learning society.  New kinds of extension services can use information technology in ways that complement delivery of online credit programs.   Here are some examples of how institutions can re-invigorate and expand noncredit engagement for lifelong learning in the new era:
·      Career Maintenance While alumni may eventually return for a graduate certificate or degree, the university should also maintain contact with them by offering short noncredit courses and resources to keep them informed about new knowledge and skills in their professions.  This is the traditional role of continuing professional education and could involve traditional mechanisms, such as workplace learning events and conferences.  In the new environment, it might also include an online learning community that gives recent graduates access to noncredit webinars, TED-type video lectures, Open Educational Resources, and less formal engagement with faculty, alumni, and other recent grads.
·      Learning Communities In an earlier posting, I described how a combination of online technologies could be combined to create ongoing learning communities.  These could be organized around professions or disciplines to help alumni and others in a field to maintain their knowledge, to learn about new research and technology applications in their field, and to find solutions to problems by sharing experiences with colleagues and faculty in an online environment.  Learning communities can become a meeting ground where faculty and practitioners learn from each other through webinars, videos and other OERs, and messaging.:
·      Open Educational Resources for Schools Throughout the industrial age and early in the Information Revolution, land grant universities used distance education to extend learning opportunities to high schools.  The University of Nebraska was a leader in developing high school level correspondence courses—which were often adopted and used by other land grants—to ensure that high school students had access to key courses.  From the 1960s through the 1980s, universities used television to deliver learning resources that high school teachers could use in their classrooms. Today, information technology allows us to create libraries of Open Educational Resources that teachers can incorporate into classes at all levels.  Development of OER collections (perhaps, initially, taken from an institution’s online credit courses) and collaborations among institutions to share their libraries with local schools is an easy way to extend new learning opportunities to students while building relationships with K-12 schools.  Such a service must be accompanied by professional development programs that help teachers learn how best to incorporate OERs into their own curricula—another application of the Learning Community model.
·      Open Educational Resources for Industries and Professions Universities can also build stronger relationships with the industries and professions that they serve by creating OER collections that provide nonformal professional development and research transfer opportunities for companies, professional associations, government agencies, and community organizations.
·      Preparing for the Third Act Americans are living longer today than in the past.  Increasingly, as a result, one of the challenges of lifelong learning is to help older adults prepare for retirement and what follows.  That might be a second or third career or a commitment to community volunteerism or turning a hobby into a vocation.  This may be accomplished through noncredit short courses like those sponsored at more than 100 universities by the Osher Foundation’s Lifelong Learning Institutes
·      Social and Cultural Engagement  A Learning Society is not just interested in work.   Other kinds of participation in the community—through the arts and other cultural and avocational activities—are important to building sustainable communities.  Public Broadcasting—now perhaps better described as Public Media—has been a leader in this function for many decades.  Today, public media is not limited to a single broadcast channel.  Many stations have multiple cable channels as well as online resources.  In short, there are many ways to engage lifelong learners in the arts and to help them develop their own creative and avocational skills.
            Our public colleges and universities have a long history of helping learners develop many aspects of their lives.  Experience shows that a commitment to lifelong learning and a learning society is not a one-way street.  Engagement at this level also helps faculty identify unmet needs, which leads to new research, new teaching, and, ultimately, fresh engagements.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Note to Fraternities


Recently, I met with members of a local fraternity as part of a series of sessions sponsored by State College Borough.  A representative of the police was there to tell fraternity members about the laws and ordinances—under-age drinking, noise, public urination, etc.—that tend to dog the party-oriented fraternities located in our residential neighborhood.  My role was just to introduce them to the neighborhood and to encourage them to participate in the life of our community.   However, as I walked to the meeting, I realized that the discussion we really needed to have—and for which there is no venue—is about what is happening in the United States and the world and what it might mean for their generation.
            I came to State College in 1968 as a junior at Penn State, having spent the first two years at Shenango Valley Campus in my home town.  It was a time of turmoil.  Earlier that year, the country had witnessed two assassinations.  In April 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., had been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee, sparking a series of race riots in large and small communities across the country.  Then, on June 6, Robert F. Kennedy died after being shot while campaigning for President in the California primary.  The country, already on edge due to an unpopular war in Vietnam, was shaken.  A sophomore at Penn State-Shenango, I was working at a fast-food restaurant and had night-watch duty during the riots. 
            The political turmoil was accompanied by social revolution.  African-American rights, gay rights, women’s rights, the youth revolution—all converged on Baby Boomers as they entered their college years.  Woodstock punctuated the revolution in the summer of 1969.   The Selective Service draft lottery, which gave every man born between 1944 and 1950 a draft call-up number, put an exclamation point on the year in December. That spring, anti-war demonstrations erupted across the nation, closing Penn State’s University Park campus for a time and resulting in the killing of four students and wounding of nine others by the National Guard at Kent State University in May 1970. 
            These things were on my mind as I walked to the fraternity to talk about the challenge of fraternity members living (and partying) in a residential neighborhood.  It had been a difficult winter, marked by the British vote to leave the European Union, increased Russian involvement in the Syrian civil war and apparent interference in the U.S. election, which saw Donald Trump elected as the 45th President of the United States, despite losing the popular vote by almost three million votes.  The first weeks of his tenure were marked by a barrage of personal invective and untruths from the new President, threats by his staff against the press, and a barrage of executive orders and memoranda that challenged the direction of domestic policy over the past decade.  Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov remarked that it appeared as if the world was preparing for war.  It was a rocky start, to say the least. 
            JoanBaez, remarking on the nation-wide women’s marches that attended Donald Trump’s inauguration, said that she “was struck by how many really young people [attended]. When I look back at the civil rights and peace movements, was it really this young?”  She added that, in an era marked by lack of empathy, “we need to make up for that, double-time, {with} our own empathy. That’s the only way we’re going to make it through.”
            Since then, the world has become even more uneasy.  Syria’s Russia-supported dictator, Assad, used poison gas on his own citizens, prompting the U.S. to bomb the Syrian airfield from which the gas attack was launched.  Then, North Korea’s dictator continued to test long-range missiles with the announced goal of becoming able to use atomic bombs on the U.S. The United States, in turn, announced that “all options” are open against North Korea.  As Vice President Pence said this week while on a trip to South Korea, “The era of strategic patience is over.”
            These are issues that, in all likelihood, will dominate society over—and, perhaps, well beyond—the next four years. This will be the background against which current fraternity members and other undergraduates will study and prepare for their lives as leaders in our communities.  This is the context that will shape their opportunities and perspectives as they start their careers and their families.
            Meanwhile, the party culture remains very much alive at Penn State.  According to the February 6 issue of the Daily Collegian, (http://www.collegian.psu.edu/news/crime_courts/article_43f7a172-ecae-11e6-ad82-27f9e0f0b322.html )  eleven rapes were reported in the first month of the spring semester. Then, in March, a young student died as the result of a fall during drunken hazing at a fraternity.  The University closed that fraternity and put restrictions on the others. However, during “parent week,” most of the fraternities disobeyed one or more of the nine restrictions imposed by the President (one disobeyed all nine).  It remains to be seen what the university will do in response.
            Meanwhile, what should the community—the full-time residents among whom the fraternities operate—say to these young men?  What are our expectations of privileged young men who are seeking credentials to lead our businesses, professions, and communities?  What are our expectations for how the university should prepare them for leadership and citizenship? 
            Not since the 1960s has the public had so strong a need to be engaged in society, to challenge assumptions and to demand standards.  We stand on the very edge of civilization, a time when a 33-year-old bully from North Korea and a 70-year-old bully from the U.S. hold nuclear destruction—and our fate—in their grasp. The lesson of the 20th century should have been that destroying life is not the way to peace.  The goal of “strategic patience” was to avoid war by creating room for more civil change to take place.  As Wendell Berry wrote in response to the Boston Marathon murders, “The solution, many times more complex and difficult, would be to go beyond our ideas, obviously insane, of war as the way to peace and of permanent damage to the ecosphere as the way to wealth” (Our Only World, p. 19). 
            My message to the fraternity men is simple.  This is your world, your future.  If there is a war, you are the ones who will fight and die in it.  If there is peace, you will be the generation of leaders who sustain it.  Either way, you will live out the result. Peace requires constant care, vigilance, empathy for the struggles of others, and involvement in the community.  It requires constant awareness of how our actions affect others.  I encourage you to turn down your music, set down your bottles, and listen, instead, to your world.  Then, act accordingly.