In the past year we’ve made tremendous progress in collaborative alliances across the universities. The consortium has established connections essential to building and sustaining robust integrated networks. The Maple League is a diverse social network that energizes cross-connections, improves knowledge sharing and mobilization, and enhances learning across grassroots microcultures (cf. Cross & Parker, 2004; Hannah & Lester, 2009; Roxå et al., 2011). We’ve taken a social networks approach to higher education in its many forms and professional practices, which has started to have impact at the institutional, consortia, and national levels.
The Maple League is fueled by a wonderful group of leaders and volunteers who chair the three robust and active committees: Anna Redden, Maple League Research Committee; Mark Adam, Maple League Academic Committee; Toni Roberts and Erin Austen, Maple League Teaching and Learning Committee. These leaders, in addition to the generous project leads across a wide range of initiatives, act as ‘social architects and orchestrators’ in ‘developing individual support and effective social networks’ that serve to promote mentorship, learning, and engagement (Hannah & Lester 2009).
These leaders encourage change at the institutional level and across the Maple League as we seek to move beyond the “way it has always been” into new spaces where universities can be on the frontline of social and economic renewal, research and innovation, and preparing our graduates for complex social change. We have been open to doing things differently, whether that is sharing courses across universities, investing in inclusive high-impact practices, leading conversations in quality undergraduate education, and creating virtual spaces that foster innovation, not just at individual institutions, but across the post-secondary sector.
The key to our success, now and in the future, is alignment: we identify an opportunity or challenge, consult current research and good practices to glean insights, design programs adapted to our particular institutional contexts, assess the impact, and share these lessons with others. This approach enables the Maple League to be nimble, responsive, and adaptive in a time of tremendous upheaval in the Post-Secondary Education Sector. Moving forward, a fundamental question we must ask is, how can we design post-COVID universities that are more just, equitable, and future-facing? The answer is complex and multi-pronged, but the values are fundamental. I am incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished this month and this year, and look forward to moving together into the summer and beyond with such inspiring colleagues and thought partners – from staff to students, faculty to administrators, alumni, and community partners. We truly are better together.
— Dr. Jessica Riddell, Executive Director, Maple League of Universities