Agenda for EWA’s 2021 Higher Education Seminar

October 18-22, 2021

Higher education journalists face a torrent of news this fall, as the fallout from COVID-19 poses unprecedented academic, health, and enrollment challenges to colleges. Meanwhile, the country’s racial reckoning and intense political polarization are roiling campuses debating  decisions on campus police, faculty diversity, and the teaching of sensitive subjects.

To help journalists separate the higher education news from the noise, give them data skills and background knowledge to fact-check claims, and spark fresh story ideas, the Education Writers Association will offer its 2021 Higher Education Seminar online Oct. 18-22.

Centered on the theme of “This Critical Moment,” the sessions will offer on-the-record access to leading higher education researchers, policymakers and practitioners. We’ll also be offering several “how I did the story” and story idea brainstorming sessions with journalists from outlets such as The Atlantic, Chalkbeat, the Houston Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Attendance is free but limited to EWA Journalist, Student, and Supporting Community members. Register to attend.

(This tentative agenda is correct as of Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. View the PDF or see below.)

Monday, Oct. 18

12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Where Do We Go From Here? 

A panel of experts and policymakers discuss the 2021-22 outlook for higher education students, staff and institutions in light of a new presidential administration, worsening political divides over the purpose of college, and continuing economic uncertainties plaguing state budgets.

  • Terry Hartle, American Council on Education
  • Andrew Kelly, University of North Carolina System Office
  • Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana Board of Regents
  • Delece Smith-Barrow, Politico (moderator)

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. The Top 10 Higher Education Stories You’ll Be Covering This Year 

Inside Higher Ed editor Scott Jaschik outlines the trends that he believes will make the biggest headlines this academic year.

  • Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
  • Christina Samuels, The Hechinger Report (moderator)

Tuesday, Oct. 19

12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Mask and Vaccine Minefields on Campus

How can colleges operate while keeping students, staff and instructors safe and healthy? Educational leaders and researchers discuss how they are attempting to navigate through often conflicting expert opinions, as well as differing federal, state and local masking, vaccinations and operations orders.

  • Wayne A.I. Frederick, Howard University
  • James Hodge, Arizona State University
  • Sarah Van Orman, University of Southern California
  • Francie Diep, The Chronicle of Higher Education (moderator)

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Covering Campus Police 

Get story ideas and investigation tips from reporters who have covered data around campus police. Learn how to dig out police surveillance data and how to examine a university police force’s demographics.

  • Dave Maass, Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Felicia Mello, CalMatters
  • Omar Rashad, CalMatters and California Polytechnic State University
  • Hailey Rodis, Electronic Frontier Foundation and University of Nevada Reno
  • Sara Hebel, Open Campus (moderator)

Wednesday, Oct. 20

12 p.m. – 1 p.m. HBCUs in the Spotlight

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have long been underfunded by state governments – and often ignored by the mainstream media – even though they produce disproportionate shares of professionals of color in almost every industry. Two veteran education journalists who have shined spotlights on these important institutions share story ideas and reporting advice.

  • Adam Harris, The Atlantic
  • Brittany Britto, Houston Chronicle

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Data Training on Faculty Diversity 

Concern is mounting that college instructors and professors generally don’t look like – or share much cultural background with – their students. Reporters and editors who have crunched the numbers share data and tips on how you can analyze faculty diversity in your community.

  • Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat
  • Naomi Harris, Public Source
  • Scott Smallwood, Open Campus

Thursday, Oct. 21

12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Redefining Remediation: New Approaches for Students Who Start College Behind

The last 18 months have been a disaster for many high school students. How has that impacted their college readiness? What does that mean for postsecondary institutions? Researchers and education leaders explain what extra support COVID-impacted freshmen need, and the reality facing colleges that are themselves recovering from shutdowns and budget cuts.

  • Nikki Edgecomb, Columbia University
  • Emily House, Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • Marisol Cuellar Mejia, Public Policy Institute of California
  • Mikhail Zinshteyn, CalMatters (moderator)

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. How I Did The Academic Freedom Story

A growing number of state legislators are trying to control what instructors teach about race and racism in America.  Meanwhile, professors struggle with encouraging students to engage in robust yet respectful exploration of controversial subjects amid fear of social media attacks. Reporters who’ve covered challenges to academic freedom will share advice and tips on navigating these divisive issues.

Further Reading:

Reporters’ Guide to Academic Freedom by Emma Pettit

  • Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed
  • Divya Kumar, The Tampa Bay Times
  • Anya Kamenetz, NPR (moderator)

Friday, Oct. 22

12 p.m. – 1 p.m. The Great Student Reallocation: Where Is Enrollment Rising and Why?

Hundreds of thousands of students dropped out of college during the pandemic. But some colleges have seen demand and enrollment rise. Hear from researchers and educational leaders about colleges bucking the downward trend and what that means for the future of higher education.

  • Mitch Daniels, Purdue University
  • Melissa Marx, Johns Hopkins University
  • Shouan Pan, Seattle Colleges
  • Doug Shapiro, National Student Clearinghouse
  • Betty Vandenbosch, Coursera
  • Kim Clark, EWA (moderator)

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. How I Did the Student Loan Story

The federal government is preparing to start demanding payments on student loans again, a topic that is igniting political controversy. Three journalists who have done groundbreaking work on student loans share ideas and advice to help localize stories and find data and sources to investigate this timely topic.

  • Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post
  • Meredith Kolodner, The Hechinger Report
  • Josh Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal