Sponsored by UCSB Faculty Association (February 2012)
You may now download the final report of the charrette.
From February 23-26, 2012 colleagues from throughout the UC system converged at UC Santa Barbara to discuss the future of the University of California. The meeting was organized by Professors Catherine Cole (UCB), co-convener of the Making UC Futures Townsend Center Working Group, and Ann Bermingham (UCSB), the Acting Director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. The charrette drew faculty from every campus in the system, from Colleges of Letters and Science as well as from professional schools. Participants included a provost (UCR) two deans (UCSB and UCB), as well as the chair, future chair and three former chairs of the system-wide Academic Senate, plus three outside observers.
The project was inspired by the thirty-year history of All-UC Faculty Conferences that took place between 1944 to 1976 and in which faculty from all campuses and all disciplines came together for two days to discuss a topic of system-wide importance. At the end of these conferences the deliberations were presented to the President of the University. The Santa Barbara meeting, while not officially convened by the Academic Senate (as were past all-UC faculty conferences), nevertheless was designed to draw upon and invoke this UC tradition. Its goal was to stimulate faculty re-engagement in envisioning the future of the University.
The meeting introduced the participants to a new planning format, the design charrette, in which the values on which to build UC’s future were openly articulated, debated, and critically engaged. Charrettes were introduced as part of urban design in America starting in the mid-1960s, and they have now become an established practice to enlist community participation in planning, designing, and visioning. While not a panacea, charrettes represent a method of approaching the future– with all of its uncertainties–that is worthy of consideration in higher education.
The charrette’s time compressed, iterative planning method was intended to inspire fresh strategic thinking about our institution. The result was a conversation about the future driven by long-term vision rather than short-term crises. The charrette was called “The Uses of the University 2050,” taking its title from Clark Kerr’s famous collection of essays on the University of California. The date of 2050 was chosen to stimulate long-term thinking.
Catherine Cole explains: “We wanted to see if the charrette method can help enlist faculty productively and effectively in addressing the complex and difficult problems that public higher education will face in the future. We also approached the weekend with the assumption that finances are only part of the UC’s present problems. The larger questions we must address are about institutional vision. Our challenges cannot be addressed by fiscal management alone.”
The organizers were successful in attracting support for the charrette from the UC-California Studies Consortium Systemwide Workshop, the University of California Humanities Research Institute, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang, UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, UCSB College of Letters and Science Executive Dean David Marshall, the UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, Berkeley Faculty Association, the UCSB Faculty Association, and the Berkeley Townsend Humanities Center Working Group “Making UC Futures.”