This commentary appeared in Inside Higher Ed on June 23, 2016. It offers some thoughts on a currently popular and valuable reform strategy that is being considered and in many cases implemented by a number of community colleges across the country.
Enacting the Model
To be sure, change happens. I’ve witnessed several successful programs take shape over the past few years as a core of energetic and creative faculty are given the resources to run with their ideas. But during that same time I’ve also seen such groups -- inspired, seemingly tireless people -- be stonewalled or shut down by larger groups of faculty within their subject area, by their department heads or by middle managers.
For all its merits, the book’s implementation plan is sometimes thin on the political and social dynamics of institutional change. To work amid a complex human landscape, the plan might well need to be combined with savvy, perhaps even Machiavellian leadership; with horse-trading; with both symbolic and financial incentives; with the strategic use of personal relationships; and, unfortunately, at times, with reassignment or marginalization of obstructionist personnel.
Pathways and Students' Lives
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