The bubble. Often derogatory, it’s a tag applied to college campuses to highlight how disassociated they are from the “real world.” Go figure that a population with an average age of less than half of society’s gathered together to read, create, and experiment would seem far removed.
But “bubble” is actually a hypothesis that pushes against the goal, which is to prepare students for success in the real world. “The bubble” suggests bounds that separate, it connotes what is probably a fear that students are not ready to step beyond.
But “the bubble” is also an opportunity as a tiny society that contains social dynamics, allows and encourages institution building, and features individuals struggling amongst those forces to grow, mature, and learn. The degree of isolation that comes from monopolizing your time and mandating on-campus living creates an opportunity to study those forces and how they act on individuals. It allows opportunity for critical reflection on how we prepare you for leaving the bubble. It allows us a chance to experiment with how to constitute our society and, not incidentally, to build our analytic skills while doing so.
If college campuses can’t be used as sites for experimentation, then we’ve lost a tremendous opportunity. As President Weinberg remarked in multiple places (here, here, and here), college is not just the formal structure of classes, but the networks of mentors, peers, and others that generate and sustain learning potential. We can draw upon those diverse forces to learn something about ourselves and to learn about humanity (with the usual caveats).
This blog is dedicated to addressing questions with evidence to offer some reflection on our bubble. Some posts will be self-consciously local in concern, while others will look for comparisons of Denisonians with the rest of the world. If the results are embarrassing, so be it. If they are salutary, so much the better. But the key is that they are generated on the basis of rigorous standards and procedures that we can trust. Let’s see where this goes.