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Designing for Equitable Futures: Respond, Reset, Reinvent

What have urban serving universities learned from the COVID-19 crisis that can inform strategic planning for the future? What inequities have been brought to light? What assumptions need to be questioned and what opportunities exist for structural change moving forward? To kick off the USU Summer Meeting Series, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities brought campus leaders together to pose these questions and imagine what might be possible.

Ilana Lipsett from the Institute for the Future presented the Writing the Stories of the Future framework, inviting participants to reflect upon what has been revealed by higher education’s response to the pandemic and how institutions might emerge from the crisis to design a more equitable future for students.

During the session, institutions discussed their initial response to COVID-19 and the impact on students including safety (physically and emotionally), access to technology, housing, equitable learning environments, connections to faculty and student academic and financial support systems. Participants also identified ways in which long held assumptions have been challenged and opportunities for sustained change that have resulted. For example, participants were optimistic that the implementation of flexibility in class deadlines, grading and assessment policies that led to positive student learning outcomes may lead to nuanced review of what it means to support student learning moving forward. Participants were encouraged to draw upon these reflections to inform a vision of what might be possible in the future.

As urban serving universities continue to grapple with the new realities created by the pandemic, inequities have been revealed on a grand scale, but faculty and administrators are rising to the challenge. The discussions in this session provided a starting point for the great work ahead to build a stronger foundation and redesign future systems around the values of equity.

You may find more information and tools from the Institute for the Future here:

Equitable Futures Toolkit here

Header Image IStock Credit: julief514


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