I’m looking for examples of innovation in higher education – particularly student affairs/student life – and I need your help.
Innovation is a tricky word. Maybe it brings to mind images like Disney’s “house of the future,” sending a rocket to Mars, or Steve Jobs introducing a phone that will revolutionize the mobile phone and computer industries.
But I think innovation is more basic – and more important – than those once-every-20-years examples. Innovation is being clear about what you do and why you do it and then finding the best way to do those things regardless of what has been done in the past. It’s looking at a situation in a context, addressing the needs, and creating the best possible solution.
Sharing ideas at conferences is great, but this kind of contextual change doesn’t come from copying the best practices of a college across the nation.
Innovation is needed in student affairs.
I’ll be honest. I have an agenda here. I want to see student affairs as a field go beyond managing the programs we’ve been given. I want us to clearly define why we exist, take that vision, and move forward in a way that works for each context.
There are books upon books about upcoming changes in higher education, and student life is rarely listed as a driving force or voice in these conversations. We need to effectively communicate the importance of the development, learning, and integration that happens through the entire college experience – inside and outside of the classroom. Just like educational practices have to change over time as students, culture, and information changes, the way we do our job must change as well. It may mean large changes, or they may be small. But that growth is healthy and needed.
So the goal is to collect and highlight examples of innovation in student affairs – not so others can imitate, but so we can understand the process, challenges, and lessons learned through innovation and change.
Share your examples here, and pass this along to others!