New Reading Group Tackles Higher Education Issues

Highlands cultural anthropology professor Orit Tamir, left, makes a point at the new Big Ideas Reading Group Nov. 9 while English professor Brandon Kempner listens. Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University.

Highlands cultural anthropology professor Orit Tamir, left, makes a point at the new Big Ideas Reading Group Nov. 9 while English professor Brandon Kempner listens. Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University.

 

Las Vegas, N.M. – Trends and issues in higher education are the focus of a new Big Ideas Reading Group at Highlands University.

The reading group is a joint initiative of the Office of the President and the Faculty Senate.

This semester, the Big Ideas Reading Group read Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. The 2014 book chronicles how many college graduates struggle in their transition to adulthood and the role colleges sometimes play in this struggle.

“What happens to our students after they leave college?” said Highlands University President Sam Minner. “Do they immediately move into successful careers, or are they ‘adrift,’ lost in the complexities of modern life?”

Arum and Roksa’s book, published by the University of Chicago Press, is based on interviews and detailed surveys of nearly 1,000 recent college graduates from colleges and universities across the country.

Minner said Aspiring Adults Adrift is the sequel to the provocative and sometimes controversial Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by the same authors.

“We’re so busy every day in academia, and it’s really important for academics to take the time to discuss our work, coming together from different disciplines and perspectives. This reading group provides a space for that to happen, along with the opportunity to share ideas and concerns about the future of Highlands,” Minner said.

The reading group met for the first time Nov. 9 at the university president’s residence. At the beginning of the discussion, the members participated in a question and answer dialogue with Arum about Aspiring Adults Adrift via Skype – a platform to communicate in real-time voice and video over the Internet.

A thoughtful discussion followed.

“This reading group is important because it allows faculty to have a broader discussion about academics that extends beyond the classroom,” said Brandon Kempner, Faculty Senate chair. “It gives us the chance to come together to generate new ideas for our students and Highlands as a whole.”

Kempner said he will solicit ideas for the book the Big Ideas Reading Group will read for spring semester 2016.

Staff at Highlands was also encouraged to participate in the reading group. Several did at the Nov. 9 meeting.