Chance of Tweetstorms

In the spring, we ran a piece titled Real Tweets, Fake News … and More from the NEJHE Beat. We noted that every NEJHE item automatically posts to Twitter, but that we also use Twitter to disseminate interesting news or opinion pieces from elsewhere. These are often juxtaposed with something NEBHE has worked on in the past and sometimes presented with an added comment, but not always. Among some recent @nebhe tweets that you may have missed …

Though apartheid could be ancient history to today’s college students,

the following tweet notes the news that black academics soon will finally outnumber white colleagues in South Africa. The tweet links to a short NEJHE piece on the death of Nelson Mandela. That piece, in turn, reflects on the lasting impact of NEBHE’s New England South African Student Scholarship Program launched in 1985. At the time, the focus on fighting the system that authorized racial discrimination in South Africa was “divestment.” But the New England program offered a way to strike a more immediate blow against apartheid by enabling New England colleges to support black South African students at integrated “open universities” in South Africa.

Or this tweet on the far-fetched, but sometimes talked-about, notion of Vermont seceding from the U.S.

Ironically perhaps, we linked the item to the recurring regional dream taken up in our issue of NEJHE on the State of New England. Sure, it was fantasy too, speaking of  a regional bid for the Olympics and hosting a mock campaign for a Governor of New England. But the content told of just the kind of real and potential economic and civic collaboration New Englanders yearn for today.

And this with the ominous assertion about competitiveness and anxiety.

The tweet conveys a New York Times opinion piece by millennial author Malcolm Harris, noting: “The struggle for success has heavy financial and psychological costs for the participants. … That’s why the United States has measured huge increases in youth anxiety and depression, as well as a sharp decline in social trust. Moreover, contends Harris, “Everyone tells students that the harder they work to develop their job skills—their “human capital”—the better off they will be. It’s not true. In fact, the result is the opposite: more and better educated workers, earning less.”

Or this on NEBHE’s key initiative of the day: Employability.

This tweet is about a new report from a key partner in the efforts, Boston-based Burning Glass. In this instance, Burning Glass has published a new report on the role of “certifications” in the newly diversified range of credentials—and another factor in Harris’s calculus about education and earnings. The tweet cites the home page for NEBHE and its Commission on Higher Education & Employability whose goal is to increase the career readiness of New Englanders.

As the spring NEJHE piece noted, tweets can be abused, even by presidents. But they do have a use as a news source and a gathering place for what matters in New England higher education.

John O. Harney is executive editor of The New England Journal of Higher Education.

Painting of “Small Porch Series #3” by Montserrat College professor Timothy Harney.

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