Learning Matters: Hazy Conditions

Chancellor Carrell

As I write in early August, a thick haze covers Rochester. With a warning for the entire state of Minnesota, MPR is reporting today that an “unprecedented stretch of poor air quality continues to affect the region.”

There’s that overused word again – unprecedented.

And this haze, being produced by fires we cannot see? – what an apt metaphor for our collective state when so much has been “unprecedented” for so long.

The early August conditions are hazy. There is little we can see clearly when we look ahead.

  • How to increase US vaccination rates?
  • The path of COVID-19’s Delta variant?
  • How students at all levels will once again thrive?
  • How science can be communicated to all?
  • and much more. (I invite you to add to this list, documenting the unanswered questions and concerns of this moment.)

These questions are not simply a list of worries, but instead, inquiries being pursued by devoted teams of learners across many disciplines and perspectives. These questions are not for the faint of heart, nor are they only for policy makers or those with decision-making authority. These questions need answers to inform action.

Across higher education, we experience this ambiguity on vital matters as a continued call to action. Researchers are investigating. Educators are examining evidence. Students are engaged. This is what we do – we learn, and apply that learning.

To be sure, for learners, this is not the time to lose hope! This is a time when the commitment to pursue solutions is needed more than ever – sociologists and epidemiologists, activists and scholars, bench scientists and political scientists – together, our work can illuminate the best path forward even in these hazy conditions.

Learning matters. Indeed, it has never mattered more.

Read more of the Chancellor's Blog - Learning Matters.