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President's Perspective: An Educative Cure for What Ails Us
President's Perspective: An Educative Cure for What Ails Us

Our institutions offer hope for the future and respite from divisiveness

By Sue Cunningham

Daniel Peck

As we prepare for the promise of a new year, I am increasingly mindful of our need to advance education throughout the world.

When this article goes to press, the many months of electioneering in the U.S. will be complete and preparations to inaugurate a new president will be underway. In Europe, the U.K. will likely be months away from commencing the formal process to exit the European Union.

I have lived on three continents and am beyond the half-century mark. I cannot think of a year, nor a place where I have resided, in which communities have been so divided by a referendum or election campaign. Sound bites and tweets appear to have supplanted evidence and expertise. Facts have become almost irrelevant, while fear and anger have become potent in winning hearts and minds.

However, the work going on in schools and universities around the world not only gives one great hope—it is a cause for celebration. If, like me, you wish for an end to the animosity and a return to civil discourse, then I can think of no greater reason to invest in education. For it has been, for many centuries, the key to preserving humanity, maintaining civility, and tackling the myriad challenges our society faces.

Spending time visiting member institutions and attending CASE programs this past year has been heartening. I'm encouraged by members' work to create a better future—from engaging with communities to increasing enrollment of first-in-family students, to providing broad cross-curricular learning opportunities, to ensuring the student experience is a supported one.

Then there's the research and innovation, which has and should continue to be showcased and celebrated. In May 2016, CASE organized its first Drive/ Conference, a program about emerging technologies and strategic data analysis to advance education, philanthropy, and other industries. In Brussels in summer 2016, more than 40 rectors, presidents, vice-chancellors, and other leaders participated in the CASE Leadership Summit, with Robert-Jan Smits, the EU director-general for research and innovation, who also served as the plenary speaker for the CASE Europe Annual Conference. In September 2016, I was honored to participate in CETYS University's 55th anniversary celebrations, for which educational leaders came together to discuss the importance of innovation in education.

As 2016 comes to a close, our members' work to advance education to transform lives and society is more important than ever. As our Reimagining CASE strategy outlines, we are focused on supporting you to be successful in your vital work. Sound bites should be challenged, evidence should be sought, and knowledge should be celebrated. Education is our best hope for a harmonious 2017 and beyond.

About the Author Sue Cunningham Sue Cunningham

Sue Cunningham is the president of CASE. Follow her on Twitter at @CunninghamCASE.




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