Creating Space for Change

Karen Spear, Executive Director, CIEL (2008)

How, at a time when higher education is being reinvented from the outside in, can members of the higher education community go about re-imagining and redirecting their work from the inside out? Change is difficult because smart people seldom have to confront their own shortcomings. When they are confronted with failure, smart people become defensive and embarrassed. If it is hard for individual faculty members to change, it is harder still for colleges, schools, and academic departments. Particularly when individual and institutional predispositions parallel and reinforce each other.

What I’m suggesting here is a way to operationalize so much of the talk about inclusive, democratic, process-oriented philosophies of organizational life. The outcome would be the creation of a culture characterized by “positive restlessness” in the words of the DEEP Project, a culture that leaves the door open to change.