By Julia Michaels
Happy new year to all our Powered by Publics members! As we enter the fifth and final year of Powered by Publics, I’m reflecting on all we have accomplished as a network, and the challenges yet to overcome. We’ve created spaces where hundreds of individuals from our 127 member institutions and systems can find community, learn new knowledge and skills, and problem-solve together. We have also produced valuable resources for the field, including:
The challenge at hand is how to apply this knowledge – and the powerful network we’ve fostered – toward making necessary changes at universities. How do you change a complex system, comprised of thousands of individuals, subject to volatile political and economic forces as well as the shifting sands of leadership changes? Some research suggests there are three drivers: structural change (policies and practices), relational change (relationships, connections, and power dynamics), and transformative change (habits of thought that influence what we think, do, and say).
Powered by Publics has dipped into all three, while leaving substantial room for improvement. The individuals in your clusters may have influenced how you see your work, and how you seek out relationships and connections across your campus. Structural change is possible when leaders are at the table and committed to improvement. We’ve heard anecdotally about policy and practice changes happening on a number of campuses, sometimes as a result of lessons learned through our network.
As we build a new future together, we hope to strengthen those individual connections through communities of practice, while influencing the field through our events, publications, and thought leadership. Engaging a coalition of committed leaders is the next step toward catalyzing tangible, structural changes at universities. We’re up for the challenge and look forward to working with you, our members, to make necessary changes that will eliminate race and class as predictors of academic success.