Inspired by Barbara Ganley at FA

Barbara Ganley’s plenary presentation this morning felt to me like a call to arms–a reminder of how transformative blogging can be if we are willing to give ourselves up to the process of “slow blogging” that she discussed.

The word that resonated in my head afterwards was “risk.” A few weeks ago, when Jerry, Steve, and I presented at UCF, I had an interesting conversation with a faculty member afterwards (whose name I can’t recall at the moment) about the fact that at the heart of so much of what we are pushing faculty to do is the willingness to take risks. That willingness transcends personal choice in many ways–I think that the real willingness probably needs to happen at a higher, institutional level in order for it to filter down to individual faculty (and students). What would our lives be like if we all worked at institutions that valued risk-taking and were “okay” with the idea that, sometimes, the outcome of risk is failure.

These days, risk seems like a completely foreign concept to the business of higher education. Institutionally, aren’t we tending to make choices based on “good business models” and “market research?” Can those practices co-exist with risk-taking? I’m not so sure. . .and if risk-taking isn’t a part of the larger culture, how can we ask our faculty (much less our students) to be comfortable with it?

Or, am I wrong? Is part of the essence of risk-taking a grassroots commitment? I’m not sure. . .