What is institutional theory?

Organizational theory proves useful for explaining much of what happens in higher education. In particular, I find institutional theory can help provide an explanation for institutional decisions and activities. Unfortunately, students often struggle with grasping some of the basics of institutional theory. In today’s post, I want to share an excerpt from my monograph on institutional diversity that helps explain the role of institutional theory in hopes of providing a foundation for understanding the useful of the theory for higher education.

what is institutional theory

Photo credit: Lynne Hand

Can we have class outside?

The weather has been unusually nice lately in Dallas. Students enjoy being able to move outdoors and I’ve seen them reading under trees or chatting in the sun: the quintessential college life. Of course when it is this nice, who wants to go inside to have class? No one including the professors! Some of my favorite teaching memories are taking classes outside. In today’s post, I want to share one of the IDEAS from my book, Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Educational Activities to Put Students on the Path to Success. In this IDEA, we share how to take advantage of the beautiful weather.

can we have class outside

Photo credit: SMU

The ability of the federal government to influence higher education

What ability does the federal government have to influence higher education? Specifically, what policy levers exist for the federal government to punish an individual college or university? While I will not make a habit on the blog of responding to every higher education related tweet that President Trump sends out, his tweet regarding the University of California – Berkeley opens up a nice opportunity to discuss the role of the federal government in higher education and the limits of federal power over post-secondary education.

Following a series of protests that started to become violent on the Berkeley campus, the university cancelled a planned talk by Milo Yiannopoulos, a senior editor at the far-right website Breitbart News. 

Higher education’s endangered values

I have often been critical of college presidents not standing up for political issues that directly impact our institutions. As waves of protests and condemnations of the executive order took hold over the weekend, another event occurred. College presidents seeing the order as a direct assault on the values of higher education started speaking up. One after another, they condemned the President’s action. Rather than sharing my thoughts, I want to take the opportunity to share the unanimous voices of higher education’s leaders standing up to an attack on the values we hold dear- both as higher education and as a country. The sheer number of responses shows just how united American higher education is in fighting this attack on our values.

Credit: Dallas Observer/Matthew Martinez

The Decline of the American Dream: Higher Education and Social Mobility

Higher education is the path for economic and social mobility. This has been the mantra used to call for additional public support to arguments regarding the centrality of higher education to American society. While we all know that higher education often falls short of these goals, higher education is consistently held up as the best path for mobility in this country. However, new data published by the New York Times holds up a mirror on higher education and it isn’t pretty. In today’s post, I will share my reaction to this new data and suggest it is time to acknowledge the inherent privilege built into higher education.

Photo credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho