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Imagining One Higher Ed Future for ‘Universities on Fire’

One possible scenario of campus conversations on the climate crisis catalyzed by Bryan Alexander’s essential new book.

Universities on Fire: Higher Education in the Climate Crisis by Bryan Alexander, published in March 2023

‘Fire Weather’ and ‘Universities on Fire’

Universities in a hotter world.

Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant, published in June 2023

‘The Water Will Come’ and ‘Universities on Fire’

Seeing the future of the university through a climate crisis lens.

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell, published in October 2017

‘The Deluge’ as a Way to Imagine the Impact of Climate Change on Campus

Continuing the climate fiction conversation with Bryan Alexander.

The Deluge by Stephen Markley, published in January 2023.

Pairing ‘The Devil Never Sleeps’ With ‘Universities on Fire’

What has to happen for academic leaders to prioritize climate risk?

The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters by Juliette Kayyem, published in March 2022

‘The Last Resort’ and ‘Universities on Fire’

Placing these books in conversation.

The Last Resort: A Chronicle of Paradise, Profit and Peril at the Beach by Sarah Stodola, published in June 2022

Climate Change, the University and ‘The Great Displacement’

A fantastic companion book to Bryan Alexander’s newly published Universities on Fire.

The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration by Jake Bittle, published in February 2023

‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Universities on Fire’

Higher education and the value of bringing climate change fiction and nonfiction into conversation.

Blue Skies: A Novel by T. C. Boyle, published in May 2023

Will ‘The Heat Will Kill You First’ Spur University Leaders Into Climate Action?

How rising temperatures will change our campuses.

The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell, published in July 2023

‘Chaos Kings,’ Climate Change and Black Swan Events

Why reading about hedge funds is a great way to think about how university leaders should think about low-probability/high-impact events.

Chaos Kings: How Wall Street Traders Make Billions in the New Age of Crisis by Scott Patterson, published in June 2023

Why Every Educator Should Read ‘Centers for Teaching and Learning’

The role of CTLs as catalysts, enablers and levers of organizational change.

Centers for Teaching and Learning: The New Landscape in Higher Education by Mary C. Wright, published in September 2023

‘Wealth, Cost & Price’ and the Future of Elite Higher Education

Endowments, status and history of postsecondary economics.

Wealth, Cost & Price in American Higher Education: A Brief History by Bruce A. Kimball, with Sarah M. Iler, published in January 2023

A Professor Champions Online Learning in ‘The Abundant University’

The moral case for online education.

The Abundant University: Remaking Higher Education for a Digital World by Michael D. Smith, published in September 2023

The Journey ‘South to America’

Traveling, sometimes to colleges, with Princeton’s Imani Perry.

South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry, published in January 2023

Why ‘The Guest Lecture’ Is This Year’s Must-Read Academic Novel

A sleepless night with Keynes while preparing to lecture on the economic possibilities for our grandchildren.

The Guest Lecture by Martin Riker, published in January 2023

‘The Aftermath’ and the Future of Higher Education During the Last Days of the Baby Boom

Demography and the university.

The Aftermath: The Last Days of the Baby Boom and the Future of Power in America by Philip Bump, published in January 2023

‘There Are No Accidents’ and the Social Determinants of Accidental Deaths Among College Students

How reading this book made me think of the death of a college classmate over 30 years ago and wonder if accidental student death should be thought of as a systemic issue.

There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster—Who Profits and Who Pays the Price by Jessie Singer, published in February 2022

Are Universities ‘How the World Became Rich’?

A higher education–centric theory of economic development.

How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth by Mark Koyama and Jared Rubin, published in May 2022

Print Encyclopedias, Universities and ‘All the Knowledge in the World’

Britannica, Wikipedia and us.

All the Knowledge in the World: The Extraordinary History of the Encyclopedia by Simon Garfield, published in February 2023

529 Plans, Endowments and ‘Poverty, by America’

Does higher education have a role in manufacturing poverty?

Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond, published in March 2023

Universities, Consultants and ‘The Big Con’

How this book can help academic leaders think about ways to engage with consulting companies and consultants.

The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens Our Businesses, Infantilizes Our Governments and Warps Our Economies by Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington, published in March 2023

Why Reading ‘Unscripted’ Will Make You Happy You Chose Academia

Sumner Redstone and us.

Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy by James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams, published in February 2023

Learning ‘The Real Work’

How Adam Gopnik’s new book helped me think about the work of universities.

The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery by Adam Gopnik, published in March 2023

Academic Career Advice From ‘Dickens and Prince’

The particular genius of good enough.

Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius by Nick Hornby, published in November 2022

Rejecting the ‘Bootstrapped’ Academic Career

Alissa Quart’s new book and higher ed work.

Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream by Alissa Quart, published in March 2023

‘Traffic’ and What the Rise and Fall of BuzzFeed and Gawker Say About the Digital Future of Universities

Parallels between digital journalism and online higher education.

Traffic: Genius, Rivalry and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral by Ben Smith, published in May 2023

‘Talent’ and the Search Committee

Would you hire Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross to help you spot academic talent?

Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives and Winners Around the World by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross, published in May 2022

‘Generations’ and Tomorrow’s Gen Z Academic Workforce

How will colleges and universities attract and retain faculty and staff born between 1995 and 2012?

Generations: The Real Differences between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers and Silents—and What They Mean for America’s Future by Jean M. Twenge, published in April 2023

Learning Designers Will Love ‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow’

Game design and online course development as creative team journeys.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin, published in July 2022

Technology, Higher Education and ‘Power and Progress’

Why AI, VR and online learning could just as easily solidify as ameliorate academic inequities.

Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson, published in May 2023

Does ‘Size’ Also Explain Higher Ed?

On mega-universities, expanding endowments and prolific authors.

Size: How It Explains the World by Vaclav Smil, published in May 2023

‘The Poverty Paradox’ and the Structurally Vulnerable College

Applying Mark Rank’s framework to understand poverty among plenty to understanding precarious postsecondary institutions.

The Poverty Paradox: Understanding Economic Hardship Amid American Prosperity by Mark Robert Rank, published in April 2023

Academics and ‘The Education Myth’

Is investing in higher education truly the best path for reducing inequality and building a broad middle class?

The Education Myth: How Human Capital Trumped Social Democracy by Jon Shelton, published in March 2023

Is Walmart ‘Still Broke’?

Inspired to learn more about Walmart’s higher ed partnership with Guild.

Still Broke: Walmart’s Remarkable Transformation and the Limits of Socially Conscious Capitalism by Rick Wartzman, published in November 2022

‘Recoding America’ and the Perils of Outsourcing Core University IT Capabilities

Why implementation skills and information technology leadership also matter in higher education.

Recoding America: Why Government Is Failing in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better by Jennifer Pahlka, published in June 2023

An Ed-Tech Riff on Smil’s ‘Invention and Innovation’

What educational technologies failed to live up to the hype, are always a decade away from mattering or have proved harmful to learners and universities?

Invention and Innovation: A Brief History of Hype and Failure by Vaclav Smil, published in February 2023

Finding ‘Everyday Utopia’ at the Residential College

Intentional communities and the all-ages residential university.

Everyday Utopia: What 2,000 Years of Wild Experiments Can Teach Us About the Good Life by Kristen R. Ghodsee, published in May 2023

‘All In on AI’ and the University

Looking beyond generative AI.

All In on AI: How Smart Companies Win Big With Artificial Intelligence by Tom Davenport and Nitin Mittal, published in January 2023

What Might Higher Ed Learn From ‘Billionaires’ Row’?

The empty penthouse apartment and the future of the university.

Billionaires’ Row: Tycoons, High Rollers and the Epic Race to Build the World’s Most Exclusive Skyscrapers by Katherine Clarke, published in June 2023

‘Paved Paradise’ and Campus Parking

“The university is a series of individual entrepreneurs held together by a common grievance about parking.”

Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World by Henry Grabar, published in May 2023

Walter Isaacson’s ‘Elon Musk’ and Academic Culture

How might a Musk-like university be run?

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson, published in September 2023

University Projects and ‘How Big Things Get Done’

Why things almost always go wrong.

How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors That Determine the Fate of Every Project, From Home Renovations to Space Exploration and Everything in Between by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner, published in February 2023

‘Going Infinite’ and the Children of Academia

Sam Bankman-Fried and his faculty parents.

Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon by Michael Lewis, published in October 2023

Why Universities Should Welcome ‘The Perennials’

Embracing a nonsequential and multigenerational mind-set.

The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society by Mauro F. Guillén, published in August 2023

‘Quit’ Academia

Academic careers, graduate programs and the power of knowing when to walk away.

Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away by Annie Duke, published in October 2022

‘Extremely Online,’ Social Media and Ed Tech Culture

Anything in common?

Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence and Power on the Internet by Taylor Lorenz, published in October 2023

David Leonhardt’s New Book, a Call to Celebrate Every University Employee

Connecting the political and economic story told in Ours Was the Shining Future with universities as broad-based creators of jobs for all—especially the working class.

Ours Was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream by David Leonhardt, published in October 2023

Going Beyond Our ‘Hidden Potential’

Rethinking success.

Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things by Adam Grant, published in October 2023

Navigating the Technological Tides: A Review of ‘The Coming Wave’

The headline for this post was written by ChatGPT.

The Coming Wave: Technology, Power and the Twenty-First Century’s Greatest Dilemma by Mustafa Suleyman and Michael Bhaskar, published in September 2023

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