My blogging has been slow these past few weeks. My apologies. The reasons include starting up fall semester, finishing the new book, and dealing with multiple family health crises. Hopefully we’ll be past all of these soon.

In the meantime, allow me to offer a barbed entertainment.

A former college president offers a finely satirical column in yesterday’s Inside Higher Ed, and I’d like to recommend it. The target: campuses refusing to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or masks, citing individual choice. The conceit: extending this principle to other issues.

Brian Rosenberg begins by establishing the theme, quoting and linking to presidents…


Today we’ll start our reading of the new IPCC climate report.

In this post you’ll find a summary of the “Summary for Policymakers,” along with questions, observations, and some resources. We’re following the online reading plan laid out here.

1: SUMMING UP

The Summary begins by asserting a finding: that human activities have warmed the world. The document breaks this down by parts of the world (sea, land, different atmospheric layers) and by degrees of certainty, along with room for some unevenness of cause and effect. Consequences include increased rain overall, decreased ice and snow mass, shifting some storm tracks…


The United States Census recently released data about the nation’s population. This is very rich and useful stuff in general, and in particular has relevance for higher education.

Here I’ll summarize highlights, then add some thoughts about what it all might mean for the next decade of colleges and universities. I don’t have time to go into the electoral implications (In the US, Census results feed into shifting and redesigning Congressional districts.).

Some of the most important findings have to do with race. Most are unsurprising, and all matter. To begin with, the number of people identifying as white or…


Posted on August 24, 2021 by Bryan Alexander

Are you seeing college students opting more for online or in-person classes this fall semester?

I’m asking this question today because I’m hearing contradictory things from various reports and individual academics as they observe students choosing in real time. On the one hand, polls have held that students prefer in-person education. On the other, online sections might be more popular, especially if students don’t enjoy face-to-face classrooms mediated through masks, shields, and social distancing.

I put this question to Twitter and people have offered a range of stories about a shift towards…


Greetings from a warm and humid Virginian August weekend. I have spent the past three days working at home on four different computers and wondering if I should rethink all work travel for the next season. Today has a very spring 2020 feeling to it.

But that’s not what I’m posting about here. At least, not about my personal choices. Instead, I’d like to update you on campuses deciding to start fall classes online, rather than in person, and making that choice from fear of escalating COVID-19 infections.

To explain: most of academia has planned on fall 2021 being a…


On Friday I posted about the ways COVID-19 was worsening, and how higher education might respond as fall classes are about to start. It was a rough post, one written in a mood of deep fear and anxiety. I wrote about a “situation… spiraling out of control,” that “[t]hings… now seem to be getting out of hand.”

After posting, I then drove 1,000 miles over the next two and a half days, depositing our son Owain in a new apartment on the University of Vermont’s campus. The trip gave us an interesting glimpse into how American culture is responding to…


This week I’ve been focusing on climate change, between my book and the new IPCC report. That was what I planned to work on, along with dealing with multiple family crises and fine-tuning my fall seminars. But COVID just won’t let me do it, and so now I fire up the blog engines to look ahead to what fall 2021 classes might look like.

I’ll summarize some recent pandemic developments here in some detail, then add forecasting notes. I hope readers feel comfortable sharing thoughts and stories in comments. …


Yesterday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a major set of reports about the climate crisis. These are very important documents for the topic, and so I’d like to host an online reading and discussion of them with a focus on what this means for higher education.

To explain: first, I’ve been hosting an online book club since 2014. Our long-standing theme is the future of higher education. To that end we’ve read books about academia, of course, along with titles from economics, technology, sociology, and political science, along with a series of germane science fiction novels. We…


What will COVID-19 develop into? What variants should we expect?

I’d like to continue my futures exploration of the pandemic today by focusing on a set of scenarios recently published by Britain’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). It’s an interesting document, sharing a range of possibilities well grounded in current epidemiology, from what I can understand. These potential futures are ones colleges and universities need to consider as they plan for 2021–2022.

Let me summarize and excerpt them here, then develop some implications for higher education.

COVID-19 status as of this post, via Johns Hopkins.

SAGE’s method — implied, but not fully stated — seems to focus on…


Posted on August 1, 2021 by Bryan Alexander

As the climate crisis deepens, geoengineering options are in the air. My question for today is: should academia support and advance geoengineering research, development, and deployment, or should higher education do its best to resist any such efforts?

To explain: geoengineering in this context refers to artificial interventions into the total Earth system in order to reduce global warming. There are many ways we can mount such projects. Altering the brightness of clouds or oceans could bounce back some solar radiation into space. Many and/or large mirrors orbiting the Earth could intercept…

Bryan Alexander

Futurist, speaker, writer, consultant, educator. Author of the FTTE report and ACADEMIA NEXT. Creator of The Future Trends Forum.

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