Tag Archives: public intellectuals

Thoughts on faculty change management and innovation


Ken Bolden, Sandra Oh and Mark Philip Stevenson portray professors in “The Chair” on Netflix

I’ve mentioned that in the past few months, I’ve been honored to have rich conversations with theological educators across the country, focused in part on their vocational lives and challenges. (And at the same time, I’ve been reading every Chronicle article I could find on faculty vocation.)

As a (former) professor and the son of a professor, these people and these vocations are dear to my heart. And the pace of change in academe over the past ten years, and especially the past two, has been breathtaking. We’ve all been on a roller coaster, and we all feel new kinds of precarity (both personal and institutional) and we’ve all faced new challenges – as well as new opportunities – in our working lives.

In these conversations, the theme of change management and “forced innovation” came up again and again. Students are looking for new modes of education. The pandemic forced us to convert all our courses to online formats. Our budgets are more and more constrained, while we’re asked to do more and more. Shared governance seems largely a thing of the past, as institutions’ relationships with faculty continue to shift (and adjunctivization continues apace). In a previous post, I’ve paralleled this new reality to the tidal wave of change in the ’80s business world, which sparked the “third wave” faith and work movement.

Meanwhile, for those of us still in the academic trenches, how do we not only cope with this time of rapid change, but also build on the innovation we’ve been pushed into during the past few years – and the past decade?

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Readings on the vocations, and challenges, of professors today


Professor Lavanya Rajamani, Wikimedia, creative commons

For the past few years I’ve been part of an eclectic group of folks who have met every quarter to read through small, curated sets of readings on a common topic. Our topics have included current research on (and definitions of) human flourishing, systems thinking, network thinking, secularization and religion, institutions and professions, the rising generation, and many others. I’ve been honored to partner with a brilliant friend to curate the readings and guide the discussions for each of these seminars.

Our topic for our next discussion is “the vocation and flourishing of college and university faculty,” highlighting both the ideals and realities of the role of faculty in higher education and the current opportunities and challenges of being a faculty member.

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