As ASHE President Dr. Ana Martinez-Aleman shared while announcing the 2023 conference theme, social, political, and economic forces are impacting the higher education landscape. Members of the public and actors from varying political spaces are questioning the purpose of higher education and its role in society like never before. For some, higher education is a place for career and workforce training, while for others, it is a place for personal and community development and engagement – all important in the development of a democratic society. However, it is important to come to this work with a critical lens and acknowledge the interlocking systems of oppression that are reverting progress around equity and justice in higher education.

In entering a space such as Minnesota, we are reminded of the paradoxes that exist within its current social, political, and economic landscape. For example, Minnesota has a deep and rich history of social justice movements, but for a progressive space, economic disparities are glaring between white and historically marginalized communities. To address this paradox, this section of the syllabus hopes to provide insight into areas where educational research may be of most benefit to develop community-centered solutions. The educational materials shared in this section address the interrelationship between history and the present, and how acknowledging this dynamic will help move the needle forward in creating justice and equitable access for all its community members. Most resources are connected to the area of Minnesota but have broader relevance.

Continuous Reflections Questions

  1. What connections have you made between your state’s government and local community regarding policy making and implementation? How have local community members been considered or integrated into decision-making at your institution?

  2. What role does history play in equity and justice efforts at your respective institution? In what ways have your institutional leaders acknowledged harm done to marginalized individuals and communities?

  3. In what ways has community engagement changed at your respective institutions in the last 5-10 years? How does your institution build community-centered partnerships?

Resources about Education/Purposes of Education in Minnesota