By: Bill Heinrich, Director of Orbis’ Mindset
Who are the agents of change on your campus? Let’s start with you. First, do you want things to change? Great! Now, how can you make them better? This is where it gets a bit more complicated.
Levers for change are all around us. But we have to choose the levers to pull that are within our reach. I use an example of leadership to illustrate this point. A lot of leadership can be understood by appointments and titles, as in ‘only the president should lead’. But another and incredibly important layer of leadership can be practiced by everyone, from entry level staff to executives! This other layer of leadership is focused on bringing people together. This is the work many of us do anyway. When you help a student solve a problem or prompt a reflective learning moment or design a good program and set up efficient processes, this is the work of bringing people together to learn. The act of bringing people toward their goals is the goal of post-secondary institutions.
How you do that work matters too! Let’s talk about where you sit on campus. Your role is most likely focused on supporting students in a particular way—through administrative support, or through creating, managing, and/or delivering learning experiences or curriculum, or through advising. What effective change agents do is help reframe a practice.
What if we had a great, long-running activity that no longer attracted students? Could we pivot to talk about the skills students want and how those skills are available in our activity? This is the difference between program-first and career-first leadership. Students come to campus to get the skills they need for their career.
How we talk about our activities matters to students. It also matters to everyone else up the line, including campus leaders and likely, your provincial and federal governments.
We talk more about the role of funding and approaches to managing funded programs in this episode of Mindset in Motion, “Seeking Consensus About Experiential Learning”, with our guest Dr. Kim Elias-Cartwright from the University of Toronto.