One of my classes this semester is titled “Intro to Future Studies.” The focus of the course is to learn about the field of future forecasting and how to apply the ability to forecast in a range of ways. It’s been a great few classes so far and I’m starting to get a little more into using the future forecasting model and evaluating the field of student affairs and campus activities.
One of my upcoming assignments asks me to put a bibliography together of resources about future forecasting as applied to my field of specialty. I had hoped to use campus activities as my specialty, but finding not much out there I expanded to student affairs. Even in student affairs, things are limited so I need to broaden even to higher education administration. This hunt for research brought me to thinking about the process of future forecasting on campus.
When I think of forecasting and various forecasting activities I’ve been involved in, I come up with a very scattered list. I think of the enrollment management forecasting that has our campus planning for expansion of facilities and looking at how many faculty need to be hired at our institution in the coming years to account for our growing numbers. I also think of the various strategic planning activities that I’ve been a part of over the course of last year as our campus strives to develop a new plan for the next few years. I also think of various articles that come across my desk relating to leadership development and the skills our students need to develop for the future. What I don’t recall, however, is the last time we talked about the future of the campus activities profession.
What does “future forecasting” look like for my profession? We’ve seen campus activities change from a focus on “keeping students busy” to one that doesn’t just encompass entertainment but instead has a list of possible functional areas that could easily spin off into its own division of the college, all with a focus on student learning. Your department may include community service, fraternity/sorority life, orientation, or commuter programs. Or, you may end up managing the campus shuttle service, the campus center, and a huge graphic design and printing operation. With so many varied areas, how can we predict what’s ahead? Could the plate of responsibilities grow even more vast? Or, will the time for a back to basics focus come around again?
Here are some trends that I think we need to talk about…
- What will the recent presidential election and the flurry of political enthusiasm on our campuses mean for political organizing on campus and related student organizations?
- Campuses across the country are anecdotally reporting significant increases in new student organizations. Why is this happening and what are future implications?
- Where will the pendulum swing in the next ten years relating to student involvement? Are the students of the next decade likely to keep embracing the student organizations of today?
- Knowing what we know about engaged student learning, what might be ahead for campus activities professionals with respect to involvement in the classroom and our relationships with faculty? Is more collaboration ahead?
- What role will social media play in developing community on campus and with outreach to students about our events and programs?
As we juggle so many responsibilities on campus, the list of future trends we need to talk about gets longer and longer.
What future trends do you think will impact our profession?