Public Agenda Alert -- Thursday, December 12, 2013
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Is Progress Possible?  

Bill Bradley on Changing the Future

What is your vision for a future in which our national political leaders collaborate, in spite of their differences, and do the work their people want and need them to do? Can you even imagine it?


For former Senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat who represented the people of New Jersey for 18 years, there are a few variations of such a future.


Senator Bradley joined us this week for the latest installment of our Policy Breakfast series. On a snowy, messy New York morning, Bradley addressed a full room at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, our partner in the series.


Adam Davidson, of NPR's Planet Money and The New York Times Magazine, spoke with the former Senator about the past, present and future of American politics.


On the past: "It was a time when there were personal relationships among members of Congress... People lived in Washington and socialized with each other. It made a big difference."


On the present: "There are real opportunity costs to paralysis."


On the future:  "You could easily see this agenda done and you could see the country saying, well, we moved forward."

Click here to read a brief review of some of the key points Senator Bradley made. Video and audio of the event will be available next week. Interested in attending a future Policy Breakfast? Let us know!

What We Heard at 

This University Will Inspire You 

In our newest report, we tell a story about how enlightened college leadership and a deeply engaged faculty has transformed a college to better serve its students. It is the story of Austin Peay State University (APSU) in Tennessee.


We've spoken to administration, faculty and staff at colleges in nearly half the states in the U.S. Rarely have we heard the dedication, optimism and commitment that we encountered in our research at APSU. Our experience has made it clear that a positive climate, where everyone collaborates on decisions and navigates change together, does not have to be an anomaly.


"It takes the commitment of everyone -- faculty, staff, leadership -- to get results, and that's what I think is most important," said APSU's President Timothy Hall in The Tennessean.  


Public Agenda's work at APSU started as a study of the adoption of Degree Compass, a technological innovation which recommends courses to students based on a number of factors, similar to how Netflix recommends movies or Amazon recommends products you may like. As we spoke to senior administrators, faculty, advisers and students, however, it became clear why that innovation was so successful - enlightened leadership practices and deep faculty engagement.


Focus group discussions revealed a climate where innovation on behalf of student success is embraced and supported - even in cases where it challenges people to think and act differently, often outside of their comfort zones.


"There is always encouragement to try new things, to be better, to not stand still. If we're doing the same thing, we're not moving forward, but there's no penalty for failure. You can have a big old flop," said one focus group participant.


Supporting innovation is just one of six other key practices that emerged from our conversations at Austin Peay State University, including: 


While experts often speak of principles of leadership, in this case study we focus on on-the-ground practices and illustrate them with the stories of those who have experienced such transformative leadership first hand.  


Read more about how the practices of the leaders at this school led to a departure from the norm by downloading the case study "Seven Practices of Enlightened Leadership in Higher Education." 



Free Webinars: Keeping Student First in Higher Ed

Join us for one or both of our upcoming webinars to discuss some of our most recent research.



Friday, December 13th at 1:00 - 2:00 PM


What will be discussed?

  • The main concerns and priorities of adult prospective students when it comes to choosing a program and a school.
  • Why existing resources and information are failing to reach them.
  • How education leaders can better engage these adults and improve their chances for success. 


Promises and Pitfalls:  

Taking Stock of Online Education 


Tuesday, December 17th at 1:00 - 2:00 PM


What will be discussed?

  • The rapidly shifting landscape of technology in higher education, and its potential for serving students.
  • How community college students and employers view online education today, and what that may mean for efforts to improve online education in the future.

For more information and to register, click here.  


About Us
Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at

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