What Matters Now in Higher Ed

On Sunday, May 26, educator and author Ahmed Afzal joined CUHF Council members from around the world to ask where we are in higher ed and what matters now? 

Including and beyond the crises of this last year, we live in enormously challenging times for higher education. In February, over thirty CUHF members—all higher ed faculty and staff—came together both in-person and online in the first CUHF Threshold Council. As we did so, a few of us had just come to know Ahmed Afzaal’s powerful new book, Teaching at Twilight The Meaning of Education in the Age of Collapse.

In his groundbreaking book, Ahmed asks that we move beyond the normative modes so prevalent in higher ed—grounding ourselves in the truth of what is taking place in society and on the planet, acknowledging deeply the implications, and living into our responsibilities as educators and moral human beings to meet our students in the changes underway.

Joining Professor Afzal in conversation was CUHF co-founder and National Council member Diana Chapman Walsh, along with CUHF National Convener Krista Hiser. Their conversation was moderated by Sarah Buie, CUHF Founding Convener, and followed by a Council session in breakout groups.

This event was the first in a series of CUHF Threshold Council zoom events, taking place throughout this pivotal year. Information on upcoming events will be shared soon.


About the speakers

Ahmed Afzaal

As a generalist with a broad range of interests, Ahmed Afzaal “brings together old and new modalities from around the globe in a life-long effort to identify the best approaches for confronting the mighty and urgent crises of our age”. A native of Pakistan, he has lived in the United States for almost quarter century. He holds a PhD in the sociology of religion from Drew University in New Jersey, and is an associate professor in the Religion department of Concordia College in Minnesota.

Krista Hiser

Krista is the Senior Lead and Advisor for Sustainability Education for the Global Council for Science and the Environment; in her role she works with stakeholders across higher education. Formerly the director of the University of Hawaiʻi System Center for Sustainability Across the Curriculum, she is on professional leave from Kapiʻolani Community College, where she is a Professor of Composition & Rhetoric with an emphasis on sustainability curriculum, climate change education, and community resilience. She is a CUHF National Convener.

Diana Chapman Walsh

Diana served as the President of Wellesley College for fourteen years; her presidency was characterized by her collaborative leadership style, innovations in curriculum, campus expansion and successful fundraising. She was Norman Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and chair of the Department of Health and Social Behavior prior to her presidency. She has written, edited and co-edited twelve books on both healthcare and education topics, and a seminal essay on Trustworthy Leadership. Her new memoir, The Claims of Life, launched on November 7, 2023. Until recently, she served on the governing boards of the Mind and Life Institute, the MIT Corporation and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Diana is co-founder of the CUHF and a member of the National CUHF.