As part of the Red Balloon Blog we are going to start highlighting campuses which are starting to launch their own Red Balloon initiative. We are hoping that these ideas will help you as you begin the initiative on your campus. We will follow the progress of these campuses throughout the year.
Ginny: I began introducing the Red Balloon Project last academic year in the University Senate meetings on campus, with more details provided to the Cabinet and to the VP Council and Academic Leadership groups in Academic Affairs. In each case, I focused on the three central issues of the project—more students, fewer resources, impact of technology—and invited people to think about how undergraduate education might be reimagined.
What strategies are you using or do you plan to use for implementation?
1) I am hosting Red Balloon Book Dialogues, based on book preferences expressed by the University Senate and others. The goal of this initiative is to give faculty and staff a chance to participate in discussions about higher education that go beyond their departments, our institution, and the issues of New York. There are three scheduled book dialogues in the fall semester (September, October, November) and three in the spring semester (February, March, April). For each, a small group of readers begin the session by presenting a summary of the book and its main implications for higher education and general and our campus in particular. Then participants can join small-group discussions based on questions that arose for the readers. This is advertised as a book club for people who may not have time to read the books, so that the summary engages people in discussion of critical ideas. The first session—on Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future—attracted more than 50 participants, who seemed eager for discussion and encouraged a longer session for subsequent book dialogues.
I developed an annotated list of suggested texts, based in part on suggestions from others at the AASCU Academic Affairs Summer Meeting and in part from my own reading and curiosity. Senators and others were asked to express their level of interest in each. They could also suggest additional texts and volunteer to be readers. Those ballots are due at the Senate today, and we’ll announce the rest of the year’s schedule next week. Red balloon book dialogues
2) I shared George Mehaffy’s essay, “Re-Imagining Undergraduate Education,” with the coordinating committee for an important colloquium series on our campus, the Arts and Humanities Brown Bag series. This well-attended lecture series has as its theme this year “Cultivating Creativity, Embracing Innovation,” so this call to envision different approaches to undergraduate education was very appealing to faculty. They have invited George to speak at the March 2, 2011, event, and all are looking forward to his presentation. SUNY Fredonia Brown Bag Series
3) We are beginning strategic planning at SUNY Fredonia, and as co-chair, I plan to bring ideas from this AASCU project to our work.