September 13, 2017

Diversity in Academe: The Age Issue

Welcome to The Chronicle’s first special report devoted to age diversity on campus. We don’t have any secret formulas to help academics stay forever young — we’ll leave that to the beauty magazines — but we hope our coverage can serve as a kind of field guide to help readers better understand their elders — or their youngers. There are now five generations on campuses: The most senior scholars were born before World War II, followed by the baby boomers, then the somewhat hard-to-pin-down members of Gen X, then the much-studied millennials (less often called Gen Y), and finally, the young, tech-happy students of Gen Z. While these age groups have different values and cultural practices (and apps), our coverage suggests they may have far more in common than they realize.

Our annual Diversity report also features some compelling personal essays dealing with identity and disability — be sure to check them out. Copies of the full report are available for purchase here.

Here are four ways in which these generations differ from one another, and how administrators, faculty members, and students might bridge those gaps.

A new generation has arrived on campus and is reshaping the conversation about the academic value of phones and laptops.

Why students and professors may think differently about free expression.

Not all older faculty members want to keep up with the latest gizmos. But there are plenty of power users with grandkids.

An all-too-unrecognizable bias plagues them. But it can be acknowledged, and mitigated.

A young scholar takes advantage of the traits she shares with her students to enhance their classroom experience.

Intergenerational expression can improve the learning experience, but older students are often still anomalies on traditional college campuses.

After being initially discouraged at the prospect of higher education, Robin Máxkii got degrees from two Native institutions. She had no idea what doors that experience would open for her.

Do those of us who wear our diversity defiantly do so to make amends for our own economic privilege?

Rich, white, straight men from the suburbs who comment on poverty, blackness, queerness, or systemic oppression should be greeted with skepticism. And if they hold a Ph.D. or a tenure-track job, it’s even worse.

A voice-disabled educator learns how to be like a conductor — silent, but commanding the sounds of an entire orchestra.

People with mobility-related disabilities can struggle just to navigate the campus, just to do their jobs. There’s no reason it should be this way.

The nondisabled can grasp that people with disabilities are not precluded from leading interesting, normal, or even happy lives.

This sortable table shows the percentages of full-time faculty members who were members of specific racial and ethnic groups at degree-granting colleges and universities in November 2015.