Fogelson Honors Forum looks to the future of higher education

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The future of higher education and how curriculums can become outdated were the focus of the Fogelson Honors Forum Wednesday.

Cathy Davidson, author of The New Education, professor at the graduate center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and founding director of the Futures Initiative, headlined the forum and challenged those in attendance to be innovative in ways to revolutionize the university.

“We cannot change structural inequality with just good will,” Davidson said. “We need to design new structures where everybody can be represented, where everybody can improve, and where people believe in equality and its potential.”

Davidson talked about many models around the country that are actively trying to change higher education, ranging from Hampshire College’s decision to no longer require SAT and ACT scores to the restructuring of the history department at Yale University despite its premier national ranking. Hampshire’s risk led to a 21% increase in diversity and for the first time since 2000, history is the number one major at Yale.

Yale made the choice to let graduating history students have an input in the curriculum for incoming history students, which allowed progressive thinking to generate within the department, said Davidson.

Curriculums can become outdated fast for a variety of reasons and can often lack the very message that is echoed in universities mission statements, said Davidson. This consequently leads to a drop off in participation and contribution to higher education as a whole, said Davidson.

“Change happens when you make change,” Davidson said. “If you find out you can do something and it works, it will embolden you to find something bigger.”

John V. Roach Honors College student Marlee Motley said that she agreed with Davidson on the importance of change in higher education, no matter how small.

“The idea of getting away from the top down approach and that everybody has a voice, I really liked that,” Motley said.

Davidson told the audience that change begins with each of us and that TCU is in the conversation of creating the change needed to propel higher education forward.

Davidson encouraged those in attendance to ask or tweet her @CathyNDavidson with any questions pertaining to issues brought up in the forum or in her book, The New Education. The first 200 guests in attendance received a free copy of her book as well a complimentary John V. Roach Honors College bag.