Public Agenda

Innovation and Change in Higher Education

New tools and technologies, like online courses and hybrid classes, hold tremendous potential for helping students thrive in today's, and tomorrow's, economy.

But tools and technologies alone don't improve access or affordability. Questions remain about their quality. And even the best tools and technologies still need to be used by people- faculty and students - to be effective.

Furthermore, while innovations in teaching and learning are exciting for many, their development and use can provoke anxiety and concern among institutional leaders and faculty, students and even business leaders.

As part of our work in higher education, Public Agenda helps individual institutions and higher education networks innovate in smart and sustainable ways. By focusing on how tools and technologies do and don't get used in practice, we help institutional leaders and faculty understand and anticipate barriers to effective adoption of the most promising innovations.

We also help institutions keep their best efforts on track by helping them engage stakeholders, including faculty, staff and students, whose active participation is necessary for innovations to stick and be sustained for the long haul.

For example, we are working with the Texas Higher Education Leadership Consortium, a network of two- and four-year public institutions throughout the state that collectively serve more than 330,000 students. We have conducted dozens of interviews, focus groups and observations with faculty members, senior administrators and students at participating institutions to learn more about the conditions for healthy, sustainable innovation on behalf of student success and completion. Through this project, and related work around the country, we are helping institutional leaders and others create the conditions for responsible and sustainable innovation.

Our work in this field is itself an innovation. We have adapted practices and methodologies from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to help guide change and accelerate improvement in the development and dissemination of new models for delivering higher education. Our work also draws on a diverse body of research in implementation science, improvement science, organizational psychology and change management to help provide practical tools to institutions.

Based on these practices, we developed frameworks that help institutional leaders understand and purposefully create climates that are conducive to the uptake, implementation and sustainability of research-based innovations in teaching and learning.

To learn more about the work we are doing in the uptake of innovation and change management and how we can help you, contact our Public Engagement department.