Transforming Higher Education through an Ecosystem Model of Systemic Change Leadership

Credit: Noipho

Higher education leaders are struggling to manage the complex challenges of the moment and identify the right approaches for creating meaningful, transformative, lasting change. The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing racial reckonings, and right-wing attacks on higher education point to a dire need for guidance on how to enact systemic change across America’s colleges and universities. We define “systemic change” as change that affects multiple courses, departments, programs, or divisions and results in alterations to policies, procedures, norms, cultures, or structures. While there is a need for such change, surprisingly there are few practical resources to help academic leaders with executing it.

To support leaders in conceptualizing and enacting systemic change, we developed the Change Leadership Toolkit (CLT). The CLT is a step-by-step guidebook for leaders embarking on systemic change projects. It is both grounded in research and full of practical, hands-on tools that leaders can put to use at their campuses right away. This article provides a brief overview of the CLT and some key information on leadership for systemic change.

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