2019 Transforming Institutions Conference Report

Kate White
Western Michigan University
Kate White (Western Michigan University), ASCN Research Director
Author Profile
published Apr 23, 2019 9:33am

The 2019 ASCN Transforming Institutions Conference brought together more than 140 researchers, faculty, change agents, and administrators to focus on transforming undergraduate education. We were pleased to include many excellent presentations, posters, workshops, and symposia in our program, some organized into our four tracks: aligning faculty incentives with systemic change (ASCN working group 6), change leadership (ASCN working group 3), equity and inclusion (ASCN working group 5), and guiding theories of change (ASCN working group 1). We'd like to share some highlights from the conference and feedback from our attendees -- keep reading for more!

Plenary Sessions

We were also very excited to feature two plenary presentations. Robin Wright (NSF) presented We have no choice: why systemic change must happen in undergraduate education. She introduced her topic with the question, how has the world change since you earned your last degree? Dr. Wright said that higher education is in the midst of an industrial revolution, driven by online learning, student debt, a shift to working learners, and disruptive alternatives. So what should we do? Dr. Wright suggested reinventing course grades, transcripts, credit hours, and intermediate credentials, so that we can prepare students to live curated lives in the modern world.

In our second plenary Kelly Mack (AACU) presented That None Shall Perish. Dr. Mack challenged our audience to interrogate what we mean by inclusion if we want to achieve inclusive excellence; she asked, "if the transformation is not inclusive, it's not excellent. So why are we doing it?" Maybe the change isn't going to happen in our lifetimes, and maybe we need to get comfortable with the idea that we are making things better for the people who come after us -- Dr. Mack asked us to consider what new, inclusive structures we can put in place today that will last into the future.


On the last day we concluded with a panel of representatives from funding agencies - David Asai (HHMI) and Andrea Nixon (NSF), with Gita Bangera (Bellevue College) moderating. You can learn more about the funding panel on our blog: Funding Panel Takeaways from the 2019 Transforming Institutions Conference.

Feedback & Takeaways

Let's hear more from our 2019 attendees!

Overall our attendees rated the conference very highly, and credited connecting with colleagues (new and known), professional development, and engaging with new ideas as contributing to those high ratings. Many said that the sessions were of high quality and well facilitated, and that they appreciated the wide range of topics and approaches that were represented in our program. The most common takeaway from the conference was new ideas or strategies from others' projects or change initiatives. Others included recognizing the importance of having and using a theory of change and networking; many also cited specific sessions, including the funding panel and plenary sessions. Overall, many seemed to agree that there is a need for connections across disciplines and institutions, and that this conference and ASCN have made good steps towards meeting this need.

If you couldn't join us at the conference this year, you can browse through our conference site for more information or check out some of the highlights on Twitter. Keep an eye out for more information on the next Transforming Institutions Conference in 2021!


Suggested Citation:

White, K. (2019, April 23). 2019 Transforming Institutions Conference Report. Retrieved from https://ascnhighered.org/ASCN/posts/ticonf19.html



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