Education

In order to become more fair and just, higher education needs new decision-making methods (opinions)

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If the past few months have shown us anything, it is that the traditional top-down, authority-based leadership method does not solve the fairness problem, because many leaders are too far away from the struggle and reality of others in the community. Especially the most vulnerable. For example, in China, The higher education sector cut 650,000 jobs last year, Layoffs have a particularly large impact on food service workers, custodians and part-time faculty.

The public health crisis caused by COVID-19 will only exacerbate many unresolved problems in higher education, allowing people to clearly see how these traditional leadership methods continue to lead to uninformed and sometimes completely negligent decisions that can be scattered and ignored Demand groups for marginalized groups—and failure to provide transparency to the wider campus community. Whether it’s at Ithaca College, Proposed reduction of approximately 21% of faculty and staff positions Only result in non-tenured faculty or layoffs in Kansas, Where the regent approves the policy Allow emergency termination of faculty and staff, including those with tenure positions. Many faculty and staff pointed out the lack of opportunities for input and reflected As called by the American Association of University Professors “Academic Governance Crisis”. In order to meet the complex challenges we face in higher education, we need new methods of decision-making and change-methods that promote cooperation and innovation instead of unfairness and distrust.

One way to gain some momentum in higher education is design thinking and its accompanying design thinking.in The road to relevance in higher education: navigating complexity, Susan. Ambrose and Laura A. Wankel are two higher education leaders. They believe that design thinking is a process-based creative problem-solving method that is essential to solving the increasingly unstable and uncertain landscape of higher education. These conditions require higher education leaders to adopt new ways of doing things. In the past few decades, we have seen joint efforts to integrate more systems thinking into higher education. The systems thinking advocated by Ambrose and Wankel helps higher education leaders use aerial perspectives to identify overall structures, patterns, and cycles that help promote equity or perpetuate inequality.

Unfortunately, we lack the methods to develop solutions that parallel the complexity of the problems we have identified through systematic thinking. Closer is the liberating design thinking, which reimagines the design thinking method with a fair perspective and a high level of understanding of the complexity of change.

In a recent report, we introduced a program called Higher Education Fair Design (DEHE) has taken an important step forward by testing liberating design thinking in a higher education environment and developing a method suitable for creating fairer policies, practices, and final higher education outcomes. We have contributed to the conceptualization of liberating design thinking by considering the organizational and policy-making background of higher education. In our model, we determine how members of committees, working groups, and leadership teams involve their colleagues and key stakeholders in designing new plans, policies, and practices.

The core of the DEHE process is the fairness awareness practice of designers, including their ability to notice bias and power differences, reflect on insights and influences, and collaborate with others with different perspectives, ways of thinking, and expertise. Higher education designers must also be aware of the political and bureaucratic structure of their environment, consider restrictions and opportunities in depth, and find solutions to potential obstacles. These navigation processes do not exist in the original design thinking and liberating design thinking models, and are especially important for the higher education environment.

Design thinking consists of stages, which constitute the process of finding solutions to difficult problems. Therefore, while we adjust the original phases of the liberating design thinking process (such as empathy and prototype), we have introduced a new phase: organization, selection, and gaining support. These new stages reflect the importance of organizational environmental awareness to encourage designers to think about the nature of higher education decision-making and implementation processes. (If you are interested in implementing a higher education equity design model in your own campus, you can check the center’s practice guide Here.)

College and university leaders who agree with the long-standing “doing” leadership style usually make decisions for groups on campus, rather than making decisions with them. The two campuses we highlighted in the report, Harper College and California State University Dominguez Hill, have formulated some reforms to better support non-tenured faculty and staff on their campuses, and intend to Add support staff to the design team to counter the traditional way of creating new projects. Policies and practices. The presence of support staff enables the team to resonate throughout the design and implementation process and receive real-time feedback on policies and practical ideas. By centering, empathizing, listening, and providing responsibilities to colleagues that are affected by new policies or practices, higher education leaders are unlikely to focus solely on their own interests. Therefore, community members can let leaders treat their interests responsible for. (in action.

The DEHE model also emphasizes the importance and benefits of rapid prototyping: creating models and outlines of policy and practice options to consider assumptions, potential pitfalls, and unintended consequences. Although our data shows that prototyping is challenging in the risk aversion environment of higher education, the design team at Dominguez Hills considered many suggestions to better support non-tenured faculty, one of which is to significantly expand non-tenured faculty- Follow up teacher representatives in the Academic Senate. However, this idea brings challenges to the voice of life and tenure positions, and may inadvertently set norms around part-time services.

Finally, the team added two seats in the Senate and established a permanent seat on the Senate Executive Committee for part-time faculty members and paid for these positions. The team took some time to reach this solution, but the basis of the DEHE process is that understanding the fairness issue may require many prototypes or even more time. Prototyping recognizes that once the team starts to present ideas to key stakeholders for support, and when new challenges and opportunities arise, the ideas will change.

In these times, leadership in the traditional sense is not enough. Our current crisis highlights the long-established leadership style that perpetuates inequality. For a long time, decision-making and leadership methods have been guided by bureaucracy, efficiency, and institutional interests, excluding other values ​​and interests. If we are to seriously promote equity in higher education, we must also seriously change the way we participate in leadership and design new policies and practices-by asking new questions, considering new considerations, participating in new processes, and activating new mindsets. The DEHE model overturns traditional leadership methods through key efforts such as collaboration and inclusive processes based on empathy, relationship trust, and prototyping, and provides a way to reimagine a fair and just organization.

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