- Higher Education Webinar: U.S. International Academic CollaborationJenny Lee, vice president for Arizona International, dean of international education, and professor of educational policy studies and practice at the University of Arizona, leads the conversation on U.S. international academic collaboration and how U.S.-China tensions are affecting higher education. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Jenny Lee with us to discuss U.S. international academic collaboration. Dr. Lee is vice president for Arizona International, dean of international education, and professor of educational policy studies and practice at the University of Arizona. She is also a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Lee formerly served as a senior fellow of NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, as chair for the Council of International Higher Education, and as a board member for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. And she has also served as a U.S. Fulbright scholar to South Africa, as a distinguished global professor at Korea University, and as an international visiting scholar at the City University of London, the University of Pretoria, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. So, Dr. Lee, thank you very much for being with us for today’s topic. I thought you could begin by giving us an overview of current trends in U.S. international academic collaboration, especially looking at what’s happening with our relations with China. LEE: Sounds great. Well, thank you for the opportunity, Irina. It’s a pleasure to be here and to speak with you and all those listening right now. I’ll speak for about ten or so minutes, and then open it up and engage with the audience. Hopefully, you all have some good questions that will come up during my remarks. So, clearly, we’re entering a very interesting and somewhat uncertain chapter in how we understand the role of higher education globally. So I will begin with some general observation so all our viewers are on the same page. Now, first and foremost, the U.S. is mostly at the top when it comes to the higher education sector. Most of us already know that the United States houses the most highly ranked institutions. And this allows the country to be the largest host of international students and scholars from around the world. According to the latest IIE Open Doors report published a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. attracted over a million students from all over the world. And we’re almost back to pre-pandemic levels. We also host over 90,000 scholars. And the primary purpose for them being here is research, for about two-thirds to 75 percent of them. These international scholars, as well as international graduate students, contribute significantly to the U.S. scientific enterprise. The U.S. is also among the leading countries in scientific output and impact, and the largest international collaborator in the world. In other words, the U.S. is highly sought because of its prestigious institutions, drawing top faculty and students from around the world. And with that comes the ability to generate cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs which further secures the U.S.’ global position in academia. At the same time, of course, we’ve seen China’s economy rise significantly as the country surpassed the United States in scientific output, and more recently in impact as measured by publication citations, and is outpacing the U.S. in the extent of R&D investment. Chinese institutions have also made noticeable jumps in various global rankings, which is a pretty big feat considering the fierce competition among the world’s top universities. What we’re witnessing as well are geopolitical tensions between the two countries that have impacted the higher education sector. While these two countries, the U.S. and China, are the biggest global collaborators—and they collaborate more with each other than any other country—they’re also rival superpowers. As global adversaries, what we are witnessing as well is increased security concerns regarding intellectual theft and espionage. I’m going to spend some time summarizing my work for those who are not familiar to provide some further context. I and my colleagues, John Haupt and Xiaojie Li, also at the University of Arizona, have conducted numerous studies about U.S.-China scientific collaboration. And what we’re observing across these studies is how the scientific pursuit of knowledge, which is fundamentally borderless, is becoming bordered in the current geopolitical environment. International collaboration, long valued as positive-sum, is being treated as zero-sum. Besides the rise of China and the accompanying political rhetoric that posed China as a so-called threat, tensions also grew among accusations, as you may recall, about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and a corresponding sharp increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. Public opinions about China were not favorable, and thus there was not a whole lot of public resistance when the FBI’s China Initiative was launched in 2018. This initiative basically signaled that anyone of Chinese descent was a potential enemy of the state, including possible Chinese Communist Party spies in our own universities, even though there was no pervasive empirical or later judicial cases that proved such a damaging assumption. Nevertheless, world-renowned Chinese scientists were falsely accused of academic espionage and their careers and personal finances ruined. In my research that followed with Xiaojie Li, with support from the Committee of 100, we surveyed about 2,000 scientists in the U.S.’ top research universities during the China Initiative. And we found that one in two Chinese scientists were afraid that they were being racially profiled by the FBI. We also observed that consequently scientists, especially those with Chinese descent, were less inclined to collaborate with China, less inclined to pursue federal grants, less inclined to even stay in the United States but rather to take their expertise to another country where they felt safer to pursue their research, including in China. In sum, the federal government’s attempts to weed out possible Chinese spies was highly criticized as a damaging form of racial profiling affecting even U.S. citizens and, in the end, undermined the U.S.’ ability to compete with China. Especially now, as we continue to observe Chinese scientists leaving the U.S. and taking their skills and talents elsewhere. With John Haupt and two academics at Tsinghua University in China, Doctors Wen Wen and Die Hu, we asked about two hundred co-collaborators in China and in the United States how were they able to overcome such geopolitical tensions and the challenges associated with COVID-19 during the pandemic? And we did learn something somewhat unexpected, and I hope valuable. Basically, we found that mutual trust between international collaborators helped overcome such perceived hurdles, including risks of being unfairly targeted. What this tells us is that a chilling effect is certainly real and remains possible, but in the end scientists have tremendous agency on what they study, where they study, and whether or not they seek funds, or where they seek funds. Regardless of the host or home country, international collaboration is important to all countries’ scientific enterprise. Coauthors from different countries improve the knowledge being produced, its applicability, enlarges global audiences, and thereby increases the impact of the work. So considering the value, yet risks, where do we begin? Firstly, federal and institutional policies, of course, matter, for better or for worse. But policies do not manufacture trust. The formation of an academic tie does not suddenly occur over a cold call in the middle of a global meltdown, as often portrayed in Hollywood. Rather, this is a gradual process. And the longevity of the relationship helps strengthen that trust over time. According to our research, these collaborative relationships begin as graduate students, postdocs, visiting researchers. They occur at academic conferences and other in-person opportunities. Cutting short-term fellowships, for example, will impact the potential of a future scientific relationship, but its effects may not be felt for years. Same with denied visas and opportunities for travel. Fewer graduate students from particular countries or fields also means a different shape when it comes to global science. U.S. for instance, was not too long ago Russia’s biggest foreign scientific collaborator, with the war in Ukraine, those research relationships, as well as much—with much of the Western world, have ceased. All of this, and my related empirical research, was conducted when I was a professor at my home institution. And since July, I’ve been serving, as Irina mentioned, as the dean and vice president of international affairs at my own institution. And I’ve been thinking a lot of, what does this mean for institutional practice? For those in university leadership positions, as mine, you know this is a tough challenge. Especially as domestic demand and state funding for higher education is generally declining. And at the same time, internationalization is increasingly central to senior leadership strategies. Universities are continuing vying to attract the world’s students, even despite a decline of interest from China. And at the same time, research universities in particular are quite dependent on federal grants. We have our own research security offices that need to ensure our universities have good reputations and relations with our large federal funding agencies and taking every precaution to not be seen as a vulnerable site of intellectual theft. These units tend not to operate within international affairs. And I’m very well aware that in my role of trying to attract as many students from China and develop international partnerships, all of them can be suddenly erased if a Chinese University partner does not pass visual compliance or there is a sudden presidential executive order, as we experienced under the Trump administration. I’m also very well aware that of senior leaders have to choose between my educational offerings and partnerships in China versus risking a major grant from a federal agency, I will lose. We witnessed that with the shutting down of over 100 Confucius Institutes in the U.S., despite a lack of evidence of systematic espionage occurring through these centers. Public perceptions, informed or not, strongly affect the nature of our international work, as in the case of Florida. Such negative perceptions are not one country-sided, of course. A key concern for Chinese and other international students and their parents relate to safety. Gun violence, including on our own college campuses, anti-Asian hate crimes in surrounding neighborhoods, and unfavorable political environment in which studies might be interrupted as in the case of Proclamation 10043, or visa non-renewals are all contributing factors for the decline of interest from China, and uncertain future student exchange as well. In closing, when it comes to China these days no practices are guaranteed. However, I can recommend some while also keeping in mind geopolitical conditions can suddenly change for worse, or perhaps better. I mentioned earlier the value of mutual trust. At my university, we have long-standing relationships with university leaders at Chinese institutions. We’ve set up dual degree programs in China. Actually, about 40 percent of our international student enrollment are through such partner relationships throughout the world, in which we go to where they are. Hiring staff who speak the language and know the culture are also essential. And, like any relationship, these arrangements have developed over time. They are not built overnight. It takes intention. It takes effort. But in my experience, as trust is established the numbers have grown, and the positive impact is still being felt. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much for that. That was terrific. Let’s go now to all of you for your questions, comments. You can use this to share best practices and what you’re doing to your universities or institutions. Please click the raise hand icon on your screen to ask a question. On your iPad or tablet, you can click the “more” button to access the raise hand feature. And when you’re called upon, please accept the unmute prompts, state your name and affiliation, followed by your question. You can also submit a written question, they’ve already started coming in, by the Q&A icon. And if you can also include your affiliation there, I would appreciate it, although we will try to make sure we identify you correctly. So let’s see. I’m looking for—no raised hands yet, but we do have questions written. So first question from Denis Simon, who’s a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Many U.S. universities have curtailed their exchanges and cooperation with China. You referenced that. Officials at these universities are worried that if they appear too friendly toward China they will lose all sorts of federal funding. Are these concerns justified? Are there any regulations or legislation that actually says federal funding can be removed assuming these universities are in compliance with the export controls, et cetera? LEE: All right. Well, thanks, Denis, for your question. I know there—when I saw the list of those who signed up, I know there are many here who can speak to this directly. So I encourage those to also raise their hands and provide input in the Q&A, maybe in the form of an A instead of a Q. But in any case, going to that question, you know, it’s a tough environment. And so much in my role, but what I even experienced in my research, is about that perception, that overinterpretation. So maybe signaling that we have this exchange program might draw attention in ways that might lead to suspicions that, oh, well is this, you know, somehow creating an opportunity for us to disclose military secrets? I mean, that’s where we take it. A friendly exchange or visit is oftentimes now having to be scrutinized and ensuring that there is no remote violation of export controls, even in educational delivery in a non-STEM field. And what we’re seeing is that this—we have our highly sensitive fields, but that kind of scrutiny we’re also seeing applied to the institution more broadly. So these seemingly benign programs about language or culture, about fields that are enhanced or help promote so-called American values, are also being watched. So I believe as an institutional leader, again, as I mentioned earlier, having to deal with the possibility of unwanted or unwarranted attention versus not having that program, I think some, as Denis has pointed out, are leaning towards being more cautious. Unfortunately, China—any work with China is considered a risk, even if there is no reason for risk, as we’ve witnessed under—or, observed under the China Initiative. I don’t know if I’ve fully answered that question, but please follow up if I haven’t. And I know others can probably say more to that issue. FASKIANOS: Great. I’ll take the next question from Peter—I don’t know how to pronounce— LEE: Peter Becskehazy. Hi, Peter. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: There you go. Thank you very much. LEE: I know Peter. FASKIANOS: All right. Good. Well, I’d love if Peter asked his question directly, if he can. Oh, good. From Pima Community College. Go ahead, Peter. Q: Hello, Jenny. Nice to see you. LEE: Hi, Peter. Q: Now my question is, the University of Arizona and other universities have had an inflow of dozens of countries, adding up to the million that you mentioned. Are other countries trying to fill in slots left vacant by Chinese students and scholars? LEE: Yeah. Great question, Peter. And I think you can also share what you’ve observed at Pima in terms of the patterns you’ve witnessed. But for us, and as we are seeing nationally, we’re seeing India rise. Not at the—not at higher numbers in many institutions, compared to China, but the rate is rising. It’s not so simple, though, because we also have relations in India, and trying to set up agreements, and bring students. The competition in India is intense. So even though there’s a relatively so-called large market, and the U.S. has been quite successful in attracting Indian students, that is perhaps where the attention is as a more, I would say—I hate to use the word “market,”—but a stable student market. There’s a lot more interest in graduate-level education globally, as we’ve observed. These countries that formerly didn’t have capacity now do have capacity. They have online offerings. They have branch campuses, dual degrees, lots of other options. And so the niche for the U.S., whereas before we didn’t really have to think about a niche, is really in graduate education. Now, of course, that’s not good news for Pima, that’s thinking about a community college and other kinds of educational offerings. But for us, we’re thinking about India a lot. Southeast Asia, of course, has always been an important partner to us. Africa continues to be a challenge. We know that when we think about population growth, Africa is the future. There’s still challenges and trying to identify places where there is capacity. But also the affordability of a U.S. education is a huge challenge. So it’s a great question. And, again, I’m curious to know other places in the world people recommend. Of course, Latin America, given our location, is a key strategic partner. But again, affordability becomes an issue. And again, I’m just talking about the traditional international student who would choose to come to Arizona. Not talking about research collaboration, which is less bound by affordability issues. Irina, you’re muted. FASKIANOS: How long have I been doing this? OK. (Laughs.) I’m going to take the next written question from Allison Davis-White Eyes, who is vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Fielding Graduate University: We have tried to work on collaborations with European universities and African universities, and met with much difficulty. What trends are you seeing in these regions? And what are emerging global markets beyond China? LEE: Great question, Allison. I mean, if you could leave the question in the future, so because I am visually looking at the question at the same time. FASKIANOS: Oh, great. Sorry. LEE: So, Allison, I’m not sure if you’re referring to academic or research. Of course, within Europe, where the government does highly subsidized tuition, it’s just becomes financially a bad deal, I suppose—(laughs)—for a student in the world who would normally get a free or highly reduced tuition to pay full price at our institution. So that kind of exchange of partnership, especially when it’s about—when it’s financially based, becomes almost impossible from my experience. But thinking about research collaboration, it depends on the level. So if it’s an institutional agreement, you know, it’s—often, these MOUs tend to just be on paper. It takes quite a bit of—it’s very ceremonial. You need to get legal involved. It’s a whole process to get an MOU. We really don’t need these non-binding MOUs for research agreements. Some countries like it, just to display that they have an MOU with a U.S. institution. But essentially, it doesn’t stop me as a professor to reach out to another professor at the University of Oslo, and say, hey, let’s do a study. Which we actually are doing. So, yeah, feel free to be more specific, or if you want to raise your hand or speak on—and elaborate on that question. So, again, for educational exchange, it is difficult because we are—there’s already a process within the EU that makes it very affordable and highly supported within the EU, or if you’re part of that bigger program. Africa, again, my challenge from my role as an institutional leader is identifying places where there is already enough mass education up through high school where one would be able to consider, first of all, being admitted to a U.S. institution, but secondly, to be able to pay the cost. FASKIANOS: Allison, do you want to expand a little bit? Q: Oh, sorry. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: There you go. There you go. Q: Right. Dr. Lee, thank you for your response. I think it was helpful, especially regarding the subsidizing of education in Europe. We’ve been working on some research partnerships. And we have just—you know, really, it has just been extremely difficult with European universities. And I do think part of it has to do with the way things are subsidized in Europe. I was just wondering if there were new and different ways to do it. I do appreciate your comment about the MOUs being largely ceremonial. I agree. And would like to see something with a little more substance. And that will take some creativity and a lot of partnership and work. As for Africa, we have tried to create partnerships with South Africa. I think there’s some potential there. Certainly, some excitement. We’ve had a few students from Nigeria, extremely bright and motivated. I just would—you know, would like to hear, maybe from some other colleagues as well on the call, if there are creative ways in working with these students as well. So, thank you. LEE: Yeah, no. And just to follow up quickly, and, again, opportunities for others to share, academic collaboration, as I mentioned during my remarks, is largely built upon mutual trust. And not to say it can’t happen from top down, but really does—is most successful from bottom up. And I don’t mean to refer to professors at the bottom, but meaning those that are actually engaged with that work. And so just some considerations is rather than a top-down initiative or strategy, is to identify those that are visiting scholars, already from that country, have networks within that country. What’s interesting, as I learned in my current role, is how little my predecessors worked with professors in these area’s studies programs, because they’re oftentimes treated as a separate or having different interests in mind when actually there is a lot of overlap to identify those that are actually there. Allison, by the way, I lived in South Africa for eight years. And I know it actually takes a long time. My Fulbright started off as a one year, and I had to extend it because even getting the data while I was on the ground takes time. And I’ll be honest, I think part of it was taking some time just to build trust the intentions of my work, what was I going to do with that data, how is that going to be used? Was it actually going to be ways to empower them? You know, for those who study international collaboration, know this north and south divide, and I think there are places in the world that are—maybe have some guardrails up from those—not saying this is what’s happening in your institution—but someone that they don’t know coming from the Global North to study someone else in the Global South. And so how do we create or initiate a collaboration that is clearly, expressly mutual at the onset? And, again, this is where trust can be operationalized lots of different ways, but that even begins with that initial message. I mean, I remember when I started my work, nobody responded to me. They’re like, who are you? And I don’t care who you are or what your CV says. And it takes time. You know, building that relationship, and that person introducing me to that other person. Like, you know, this is how scientific networks form. And I think, to some extent, this is also how institutional collaborative relationships also form. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to David Moore, who has a raised hand. Q: OK, thank you. I just got unmuted. FASKIANOS: Great. Q: Lee, I appreciate your comments. And I heard your reference to Florida earlier. I don’t know if we have colleagues on this call from Florida, but I think they’ll know what I’m about to say. I’m the dean of international education at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. And as of tomorrow, December 1, Florida has to—all institutions in Florida, public institutions, colleges and universities, must be completely devoid of any partnerships in China. And not just China. There are seven countries of concern. And you probably can cite them, most of you would know the other six. But of the seven countries, Broward had four partnerships in China alone, none in the other countries that were active. And so we are now officially done, have to be. And I’ve had to notify the partners as well as our accrediting body, because these were international centers of Broward where they literally offer—we offered associate degrees, two-year degrees. And students could then transfer to an institution in the United States. Now, this didn’t catch us too much by surprise because two and a half years ago our Florida legislature started in on this, really probably before that, where they isolated universities in Florida and said: You cannot do research—sensitive research, whatever, you know, engineering, computer science, et cetera—any research without notifying the state. And there’s an elaborate process that had to be—you know, they had to go through to do this. But now it’s not just research institutions. Now it’s not just those kinds of collaborations. It is, in fact, all partnerships of any kind. We had to end our agent agreements where we were recruiting students from China that were—where the companies were based in China. And in course our programs were not research. They’re just general education, two-year associate’s degree, maybe some business. But we’ve been informed now it’s completely done. And so I’m actually looking for institutions outside of Florida who might be willing to take over the role that we’ve had in transcripting students who later want to come to the United States. At least for the first two years in China, and then transferring to the upper division to the U.S. So I’m not sure. You’re probably quite familiar with this. I don’t know if you know the details of how it was worked out in practice. We were the only community college in the state that had any partnerships. So we were the ones that had to desist. So I want to—there are probably people on the call that are familiar with this, but there might be many others. And I just wanted to say that I’m looking to, you know, open that door to other institutions outside of Florida that might be willing in, yes, take a risk to go into China, but to—I’ve always felt that these kinds of programs were very good to build relationships, partnerships, communication. Ambassadors really. Where we feel like we were representing American education, whatever, you know, we call American values, democracy, you know, community. We thought we were doing good. But we found out we were—we were not. We were—we were doing something that went opposed to the prevailing political climate, at least in Florida. So that’s my comment. I think people should know about it. And thank you for letting me speak to it a bit. Maybe someone will speak up and say they’re interested in they can get in touch with me, David Moore at Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. LEE: David, thank you for sharing what you did. This is a really important example of where other states could very well head. And what’s interesting, as David noted, we’re talking about a community college. When we normally think about cutting ties, it’s usually around the concerns about national security. Now, how this translates to a two-year degree that is solely educational based is a pretty far stretch, and yet is being impacted quite severely. So I think we should continue to follow this example—unfortunate example. And, David, yeah, your partners have reached out to my office, and I’m sure to others. But thank you for being available. Q: You’re welcome. We have partners—we are also working with your Jakarta, Indonesia center there. So we have that connection. Thank you. LEE: Mmm hmm. Thanks. FASKIANOS: And if anybody wants to share contact information in the Q&A box, you can certainly do that. That would be great. There is a written question from Tutaleni Asino at Oklahoma State University: There was an article today in SEMAFOR highlighting that there are currently 350 U.S. students studying in China compared to 11,000 in 2019. Comparatively, there are 300,000 Chinese students in the United States. Is this a one-way problem, where the U.S. is not investing in international engagements as a result of being more inward looking and other countries having more options of who to collaborate with? LEE: Yeah. Tutaleni, that’s—I think your question is an answer. And I think it’s—I agree with your observation. So we are seeing that as there’s state and public disinvestment in higher education, and including scrutiny about international higher education, we’re also seeing a decline and cutting of foreign language programs in the United States. So here we are, a monolingual country whose students mostly go to Europe or other English-speaking countries to study abroad. A very limited number of international—U.S. students who pursue undergraduate degrees in a foreign country. And knowing that the future is global and international, at least in my opinion, does not set the U.S. up well to be globally competitive, even though much of its international policy is around this rhetoric of we need to compete with China. And so you raise a good point. How is this possible if U.S. citizens don’t speak Chinese, or have no interest in learning about Chinese culture, or there’s reduced opportunities even in our own institutions, I think is something to think about and ask more questions about. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next question from Zhen Zhu, chair and professor of marketing, director of faculty excellence, and director for international engagement at Suffolk University: How do you see the trend of U.S. students’ interest in study abroad to China? LEE: There is actually growing interest. As many of you know, China—offering Chinese language in high schools is not as unusual as it used to be. There is growing interest as students are thinking about employability in global markets in multinational or international organizations or corporations. It would be fundamental, in fact, for someone who has any interest in international work to pick up the language if they can, and at your own institution. FASKIANOS: Great. Let’s see. From—I’m going to take the next question from Jeff Riedinger: Is there a role for universities to play in knowledge diplomacy to sustain international relationships and collaborations in addressing global problems such as climate change and pandemics when national governments may be at odds with each other? LEE: Thanks, Jeff. And hi, Jeff. I’m just going to read over that question so I can kind of digest it a bit. Is there a role for institutions to play in knowledge diplomacy, such as climate change, pandemics, when national governments may be at odds with each other? Absolutely, 200 percent. It is occurring—knowledge diplomacy, science diplomacy. That one individual going on a Fulbright or coming to study here for some extended visit, having these collaborations and, ultimately, you know, science—knowledge production—I mean, there’s no bounds. And when we think about the kind of research that may not occur because of these national governments are at odds when it comes to addressing climate change or other global issues, you know, the world is paying somewhat of a price when it comes to that in—when there are overarching concerns about national security. So, you know, my issue has always been with policy you overlook nuance, and with sweeping policies that overlook the disciplinary distinctions and contributions, what is lost in the pursuit of trying to stay ahead of another country in fields and areas that really have no economic or military value, right? But yet, have an important cultural value, or maybe will address something bigger, such as COVID-19. So as I mentioned, the work that I referenced earlier about U.S.-Chinese scientists coming together during COVID-19, were actually scientists who studied COVID-19 together. And again, this was not—this was fraught with risks. They were very well aware that there was a lot of scrutiny about any research about COVID-19 coming from China. There was scrutiny about, you know, where the data was held, who was analyzing it, who was funding it. And yet, these scientists took these risks in order to address how does the world deal with the pandemic. And this was based on interviews of those studies that were actually successful and published. This is where that mutual trust, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is so important. And without that mutual trust, these studies, I’m pretty certain, would never have been published, because it was not an easy path when it comes to that particular geopolitical climate during the pandemic. FASKIANOS: Jenny, I’m just going to ask a question. President Biden and President Xi met during APEC. Did anything come out of that meeting that could affect U.S.-China academic collaboration? LEE: Yeah. You know, this is tough. I mean, how do you analyze political statements? What do they really mean? And what is really going to change? I think what’s clear is that there’s an acknowledgment that we’re interdependent, but we’re also adversaries. Almost a love/hate codependent, in a relationship that we can’t just easily separate but we do need each other. But the form that it takes, I think there’s an understanding it needs to be more specific. And I don’t think that has been clarified yet. I realize I missed part of Jeff’s question on what can institutions do? That’s such a good question. And I got more into the topic than the actual to-do. What can institutions do? Honestly—(laughs)—I’ll just speak as a researcher, to back off a bit, right? To let scientists do what they want to do. Yes, we need to follow disclosures. We need to make sure there’s no conflicts of interest. We need to follow all of these procedures. But what I also found during the China Initiative, there was also this chilling climate in which there’s an overinterpretation that may put institutions at risk. And to my knowledge, institutions were not at risk to the extent to which their scientists, especially those of Chinese descent, felt scrutinized. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have a raised hand from Dan Whitman. Q: OK, I think I’m unmuted. Thank you, Irina. And thanks, Professor Lee, for mentioning the Great Wall that that prevents us from dealing with even Europeans who have subsidized education or Africans who have no money. And just an anecdote, since you have welcomed anecdotes, I am an adjunct at George Washington University. But totally unrelated to that, just for free and just for fun, pro bono, nobody pays, nobody gets paid. A course that I’m giving by webinar, it’s zero cost. The topic is crisis management, but it could be any topic. And in that group, which there are about eighty people who tune in twice a week, fifteen Kenyans, twenty-five Ukrainians, and forty Kazakhs. I mean, I don’t know if there’s ever been exchange between Kazakhstan and Kenya. Anyway, my point is things can be done. We share it for free. What motivates the students? A certificate. It’s so easy to give them a certificate. And in many countries, they very highly value that, even though it’s not a—there’s no formality, there’s no formal academic credit. But the students are very motivated. And possibly, there may be universities in the U.S. that could—that might want to give a professor a small stipendium to do an informal webinar course, which would create connections, which would be zero cost, basically, and would bridge that gap of funding that you’ve alluded to. Thank you. LEE: Yeah. Dan, thank you for that. And I think this leads to a kind of a spin-off comment about certificates. Absolutely. Micro-credentials or alternative forms of education, where there’s maybe not a full-fledged undergraduate degree but some certificate, I think, is important niche, especially for returning adults or communities where they’re not able to afford to take time off. So that flexibility, and obviously now with online education, just becomes so much more accessible and very low cost. Something else to keep in mind, though, is that, depending on the institution you’re from, that will make a difference in certificates. I mean, an institution like George Washington University offering a certificate may have some symbolic or perceived value that may be higher than an institution that is lower or are not ranked at all. So this is where, unfortunately—I’m a big critic of global rankings. But unfortunately, it does play a role in how that certificate is being perceived and the attractiveness of that certificate. But absolutely, this is definitely a way to open access especially for places in the world that just cannot physically move or have the funds to support their studies. FASKIANOS: Great. There are two comments/questions in the Q&A that I wanted to give you a chance to respond to about Africa, from Tutaleni Asino and Fodei Batty. Dr. Asino talks about English is the language of instruction and governments in Africa where they’re funding education to a higher degree, and thinks that there are opportunities there, but it sounds like all fifty-four countries are grouped together. And Dr. Batty talks a little bit about there are a lot of students from African countries pursuing graduate education in the United States. But South Africa is usually an exception to the higher education American norm in Africa. Most South Africans don’t like to travel, especially travel to America. I thought maybe you could just clarify some—respond to those comments. LEE: Yeah. Absolutely. Thank you for sharing those comments. There’s a book I edited called Intra-Africa Student Mobility. And I agree with the comments. And one of the things I didn’t mention that I think is important to help us understand the broader global context is that there’s actually considerable international activity within the continent. And there’s actually considerable intra-Africa mobility within the continent. South Africa is the most important country player in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is globally ranked—has more globally ranked institutions than any other African country. And so South Africa then becomes an important hub. And, yes, as an English-speaking, among many other languages, country, that does attract African students to go oftentimes for a similar sense of shared culture, despite sometimes different languages and customs and backgrounds. And yet, nevertheless, South Africa is an important player within the continent. Not to say that there is no international mobility occurring, but there is increased capacity within the continent that would allow students and interested students to travel within the continent. Not the same extent, of course, as Europe. But the least we’re seeing that rise over time. And so it’s called Intra-Africa Student Mobility. Chika Sehoole and I coedited the book. We were able to get about eight African scholars to talk about the various reasons students would choose that particular African country, and what draw them. And what was really interesting about this phenomenon is that it goes against this prevailing notion of Africa’s victim of brain drain or all going to the north. That’s actually not what is happening. But that there is capacity building within the continent. So in trying to answer a different question, I skirted over a lot of the things I could go further into. But hopefully that book will shed light on what’s happening within that continent, at least from the perspective of eight different countries. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you for that. I’m going to go next to Jonathan Scriven at Washington Adventist University in Maryland: What are some of the strategies universities are using to make education more affordable in the United States? If that is a challenge, are schools investing more or less in setting up campuses in foreign countries as a way to reach foreign students? LEE: I’m just going to read over that question. OK, yeah. Great question, Jonathan. So what’s happening in my institution and many others is a way to attract students is we’re providing considerable aid, merit aid, financial aid, aid even to international students. The majority may not even be paying the full sticker price. Now this, of course, will affect the revenue that would have otherwise been generated, but nevertheless is a way to deal with the fierce competition across U.S. institutions for these top students. So how to make it affordable? There’s a lot of aid going around at the undergraduate, not just the graduate, levels. And so what are institutions doing? Well, for example, at the University of Arizona for our dual degrees, it’s a fraction of the cost of what it would cost to be a student at our main campus. When you have a combination of hybrid or online delivery with a campus partner maybe providing most of the gen ed’s and then we would teach most of the major courses as an example, that does significantly lower the cost where that student will still get a bona fide University of Arizona degree, just like they would at main campus. So these alternative forms of delivery certainly make it more affordable, especially for those that opt to stay in their home country and receive an online education, or a flipped classroom model, or a dual degree. FASKIANOS: Great. Denis Simon, if you can—why don’t you ask your question? Q: Here I am. OK. Recently, on a trip to China in September, a number of faculty have told me they’re no longer wanting to send their best students abroad. They want to keep them in China. And this is all part of the rise of Chinese universities, et cetera. And so it may not be simply the souring of Sino-U.S. relations that has causal effect here, but simply the fact that China now is becoming a major, you know, educational powerhouse. And that also could change the dynamics. For example, even the BRI countries could start to send their students to China instead of sending them to the United States. Do you see anything evolving like this or—and what might be the outcome? LEE: Yeah. Spot on, David. That halo effect of a U.S. degree is not the same as it was when I was a university student. Chinese students, as well as students in the world, are much more savvy. They have access to information. They have access to rankings. They know all universities are not the same. And they know that they have some institutions that are highly ranked and may offer better quality education than the U.S. So that the image of a U.S. degree, of course, is not as universally perceived as it may have been, I don’t know, pre-internet, or without the—all sorts of rankings in which institutions are rated against one another. And absolutely, Chinese institutions are very difficult to get into, fiercely competitive, producing far more scientific output than some of our leading institutions. And there’s another factor when it comes to Asian culture just more broadly speaking, is that social network tie. Sociologists refer to it as social capital. When a Chinese student, a Korean student, Japanese student decides to study in the United States, they may lose that social tie that may possibly put them in a disadvantage when they decide to come back and compete for a position when they may just have that U.S. credential, but may have either lessened or no longer have that relationship that may have allowed them to get a position at the university, or in a place where that alumni network would have been especially useful. So again, I don’t want to generalize, you know, in any place to the world, but there is that component that I think sometimes is missed in the literature. Maintaining that social network is pretty key, especially as jobs, of course, global, you know, unemployment—places where students are competing for positions need to have every edge possible. So that also can be part of that reason they decide to stay. FASKIANOS: Great. The next question from Michael Kulma, who’s at the University of Chicago. He’s following on David Moore’s comments about Florida: Do you know how many other states in the U.S. are enacting or are considering such policies against partnerships with China? LEE: I do not know the answer. So if anyone wants to raise their hand and share about their own state, or put it on the answer part of the question and answer. There are related concerns about DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some of that may spill over to China. Hopefully, at some point at the Council of Foreign Relations will have a discussion on Israel and Hamas conflict and how institutions are dealing with that. And so we’re seeing a pretty challenging political environment that is clearly spilling over to our classrooms and to our international activities, our domestic recruitment. But I’m not answering your question, Michael. (Laughs.) I’ll leave it up to someone else to answer. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. So we don’t have very much time left. I thought maybe you could, given your research and expertise, could suggest resources—recommend resources for higher ed leaders and administrators to better understand how to promote collaboration. LEE: Sure. So promoting collaboration, it really—each person at a time. You know, again, MOUs may be signed, and maybe overarching presidents will come together and have an agreement, but there’s no guarantee that will ever happen. I’d love to do a study on how many MOUs never actually materialized into real action. So where do we begin? International affairs SIOs out there, identify who are your area studies experts? Who are your visiting postdocs? Who are your Fulbright scholars from other parts of the world? They all represent their own network and are certainly are valuable resources to consider. What I’ve sometimes have heard even at my own institution is, you know, how do we bring these people to the table? Why are they not at the table to begin with, and then how do we bring them there? And this is a relatively low-cost way to go about this, right? Like, faculty engaged in service. What kind of opportunities can your university provide for faculty service that is aligned with their area of expertise, the areas of the world they represent, the networks they have? And many of—some of you already have experienced this directly. These partnerships often begin with our alumni, international—former international students who decide to go back home. So, again, there’s just a lot of exciting opportunity. I love this field because it’s never boring. There’s always new ways to grow, expand new partners. But it really does begin with that essential element of trust. And that often begins with our own institutions and identifying those who’ve already started to build that network. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Thank you very much. Really appreciate your being with us and for sharing your expertise and background, Dr. Lee. It’s been fantastic. And to all of you, for your questions and comments, and sharing your experiences as well. You can follow Dr. Lee on X, the app formerly known as Twitter, at @JennyJ_Lee. I will send out a link to this webinar, the transcript, and the video, as well as the link to the book—your book that you mentioned, and any other resources that you want to share with the group. And I encourage you all to follow @CFR_academic on X, visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. We also—just putting in a plug for our other series, Academic Webinar series, which is designed for students. We just sent out the winter/spring lineup and we hope that you will share that with your colleagues and your students. It is a great way for them to have access to practitioner scholars and to talk with students from around the country. So if you haven’t received that lineup, you can email [email protected], and we will share that with you. So, again, thank you, Jenny, for being with us, and to all of you. And wishing you safe and happy holidays. And good luck closing out this semester before we get to the holidays. (Laughs.) So thank you again. (END)
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- Higher Education Webinar: The Changing Landscape of Admissions CriteriaScott Jaschik, cofounder and former chief executive officer and editor of Inside Higher Ed, leads the conversation on the changing landscape of college and university admissions criteria. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Scott Jaschik with us today to discuss the changing landscape of college and university admissions criteria. Mr. Jaschik was a cofounder and former chief executive officer and an editor at Inside Higher Ed, a media company and online publication that provides news, opinions, resources, and events focused on colleges and university topics. He previously served as editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education and was a former board member of the Education Writers Association. And he’s a leading voice on higher education issues, publishing articles in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. So, Scott, thank you very much for being with us today. There’s a lot here to cover, I thought maybe you could give us context and set the stage of the current trends in college and university admissions, as well as the role and importance of international students and scholars at U.S. universities. JASCHIK: Sure. Thanks very much for the invitation. And it’s great to speak to CFR people. And it’s great particularly because you’re a group whose interests extend far beyond higher education. And it just goes to show, higher education is important to every society and everyone, really. So I think this is a great opportunity for me to talk to you. And mainly, I’m excited to hear what the attendees have to say about these issues. But briefly, to give an overview. The big issue, and I want to say a few—one thing, in terms of setting the context. Admissions, talking about college admissions, can vary hugely depending on who you are talking about—by student, by institution, and so forth. So I’m going to talk, for instance, at the beginning about affirmative action. And I’ll talk about the institutions that are most affected by the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action. But then I’m going to talk about a trend in the rest of higher ed, direct admissions, and how that affects people in higher ed. And then at the end, I’ll throw in a few comments on the international students. So on affirmative action, the big news was this summer the Supreme Court ruled six to three that colleges—that two colleges in particular, Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill, were not following the law with respect to how they used affirmative action in admissions. It was a very strong decision, a very thorough decision, but one that greatly upset most people in colleges. The general public generally is a little bit skeptical of affirmative action. But in higher ed, there is very strong support for affirmative action. Now, it’s important to remember that this decision will directly affect maybe two hundred institutions. Now, it may indirectly affect many more down the road. I’ll talk about that in a minute. But it’s important to remember, at most colleges—you know, you read these stories every year about how under 5 percent of applicants get into Harvard, Yale, and whatever. Well, most colleges admit most applicants. And I’ll just repeat that, because it’s really important to remember. Most colleges admit most applicants. I think that is largely lost in the coverage of late on affirmative action. And it’s really important, if you have an opportunity, to shout that out to the world. Because even if a student doesn’t feel comfortable applying to an elite college or university, it’s important to always say that there is a place in higher ed for that student, and for all students. But on higher ed, this is a big decision for higher education because most of the top colleges in the country have used affirmative action in admissions. They don’t maybe want to talk about it now, but they have used it for their admissions processes. And now they can’t. And, you know, there’s really a lot of skepticism about what it will be like. Now, the expectations are based on the University of California, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, because in prior court rulings and in state votes they do not use affirmative action. And if you expect them to follow—to follow what’s going to go on, people will predict a major decline for Black students, Latino students. White students actually are not going to gain a lot. Asian students will gain. But that’s based on those past examples. There’s a big question mark this year which is about the admissions tests that in the past were required of all students, but now they aren’t. And test-optional admissions truly took off during the pandemic, because there was a period of time when students literally couldn’t take the SAT or ACT. But a secondary reason, and arguably, I think, the more important reason, colleges dropped the test-optional—or, went test-optional, is this decision. They knew it was coming and this gives them a lot more flexibility. So do I expect to happen what happened with the University of California? I would say yes, but, because nobody really knows what the impact will be of test-optional admissions. Now, very quickly, some other things on affirmative action to remember. Many colleges are adding essays specifically to reach students who are minority students or who have particular experiences that colleges want to have. And this is, again—remember, even if a college asks, are you Black, Latino, or whatever, they cannot use that information when they evaluate students. So that will be totally invisible to the colleges. The Supreme Court decision explicitly said that students can write about their experiences in life and how that affects them for higher ed. But the Court’s going to be watching very carefully and wants to make sure that anything that the students say is not just a way to go back to considering students differently, as the Court said, on the race and ethnicity. Also, there’s a group working to create a new system to evaluate students’ character, because character is something that many people cite but they don’t really have a way to cite it. That’s the kind of thing that we’re seeing. Now, there are other issues too. Legacy admissions, in which colleges favor the children of alumni or relatives, that is under real tight scrutiny right now. There was nothing in the Supreme Court decision to say they couldn’t do legacy admissions, but many colleges are uncomfortable given that they cannot use the systems they came up with to help Black, and Latino, and Asian American students get into college. They are uncomfortable with legacy admissions because it primarily helps white students get into college. And that’s not something they want to do. Similarly, early decision is something that is very controversial, because it primarily helps white students. Now what’s unknown is two things. One is the final rule, so to say, on admissions. That’s going to be decided not by anything I say or that anyone else says, but it’s going to be back in the courts. I would be absolutely certain it will return to the courts. And they will, you know, hash that out. Also, there’s the question of financial aid. Some colleges award—and this is many more colleges—award financial aid in part based on race and ethnicity. Is that legal? We don’t yet know. Some players on both sides have offered their opinions, but that will be a huge decision that will come down. Now I want to talk about another issue in higher ed that’s going on, which is direct admissions. And if you’re not familiar with direct admissions, in direct admissions students do not apply to colleges. Students simply fill out a form, which includes their transcript, any test scores they want to submit, and roughly where they want to go to college. I don’t mean institution names, but, like, I live in Connecticut and these are the—and I want to go to college near my home. It’s important to remember, most college students go to college near their homes. So and then after that, colleges will look at the application that they filled out. And colleges will admit those students. Now direct admissions is very popular among all the institutions that I wasn’t talking about before, because it is a good way to recruit more low-income students, who seem to really like this system. But direct admissions has primarily been used on a small scale. And that—we have to see what will happen as it goes to a larger scale. So that is something still to find out. And then on international students, with international students most colleges very much want international students. But there are key things that may make it difficult to recruit them. One is foreign—the foreign relations, as your group well knows. I mean, you’ve got the war in Russia and Ukraine, which didn’t send a lot of foreign students to the United States, but they sent some. And, interestingly, some of the colleges in New York City have both Russian and Ukrainian students at the same college. And they are dealing with issues related to that. But the most students have come from China. And our relations with China are, frankly, pretty bad right now, I would say. And that raises real questions about which students will come. My guess is that the top universities are not going to have a loss in foreign students, or at least not a substantial loss. But it’s important to remember, foreign students are enrolling at every type of college and university. And they may be affected at institutions that aren’t as competitive in admissions. So that’s my rough answer to your question. Have at it. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you so much. And now we’re going to go to all of you for your questions and comments. And please use this as a forum too to share best practices. (Gives queuing instructions.) So I’m going to take the first written question from Edie Gaythwaite, professor at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida: The issue of essays is now the use of AI-generated essays being submitted. So how do you see the admissions process moving forward with this in mind? JASCHIK: That’s a great question. And it’s something that’s getting a lot of attention right now. And I’m going to answer first for what’s going to happen this year, and then I want to talk about the future. Right now, this is making a lot of people in admissions very nervous, because every day someone does a story on—on the way AI can be used to write essays. Colleges don’t know. So they are nervous. Now, some of the services that colleges use to detect plagiarism can also be used, they say, to maybe detect the use of AI. So that’s one possibility. Others are suggesting that colleges should instead of using regular essays, should require an essay that is handwritten and was graded by a high school teacher, and to turn it in with the high school teacher’s grades. Now that’s a little—there’s something odd about that, in that that assumes that the student didn’t use AI in high school, which, you know, who knows if that’s true. But the reason I would say not to get a huge panic this year, is that a bunch of colleges are working on the issue. I suspect that by the end of this year, they are going to have better ways to deal with AI than they do right now. So I would say, you know, watch. But remember—and the other thing I would say is to remember past examples. Remember, when Wikipedia first started? There were people saying, no college student is ever going to write his or her own essay again. They’re all going to come from Wikipedia. Well, they’re not. And so because a lot of people figured out how to use Wikipedia, and how not to use Wikipedia. So I don’t mean to sound like a Pollyanna, but there may be a better way coming. FASKIANOS: Our next question comes from Beverly Lindsay. Beverly, please identify yourself and ask your question. Q: Can you hear me? FASKIANOS: We can. We can. Q: Great. Beverly Lindsay, University of California, multicampus. Hello, Scott. Good to hear your comments. I have something that wasn’t quite covered. Because I have been at two major research universities, actually more, but two in particular. They actually have informal legacy admits. And I would like your speculation on how that will continue. The second part of the question relates to HBCUs, particularly the ones that are known as the Black Ivies. I was at two of them. And I also know that they are concerned about having more diverse students from different economic backgrounds. Could you comment on that as well? Thank you. JASCHIK: Sure. Those are very good questions. So, first, on the informal legacies, which is something I have heard about. And I, in fact, did a story about a university that said it was eliminating legacy admissions, but it turned out they weren’t. They still had legacy admissions. And that’s because legacy admissions is something that colleges like to talk about with their alumni, but maybe not with the public. It strikes me that informal legacy admissions really doesn’t make sense. If you believe in legacy admissions, defend it. But informal strikes me as inappropriate, frankly. Now, on the HBCUs, and particularly, the so-called top HBCUs, there’s interesting developments with regard to affirmative action. When California eliminated affirmative action way back when, more Californians started to go to Morehouse, and Spelman, and other very good HBCUs. And we are going to see more of this in the next year, I think. But at the same time, I would caution against assuming that HBCUs can provide the answers to everything here. Morehouse and Spelman, despite being great colleges, to not have the financial aid that Harvard and Stanford have. They just don’t. There’s not enough money there. And it’s a different kind of experience, a great experience for some students. But financially and otherwise, there are limits to what they can do. Now, if Morehouse and Spelman could grow by a thousand students, well, that would sound wonderful. But I don’t think they can grow by a thousand students, at least not immediately. So this year, I think we’re going to be watching what goes on at those colleges. So I hope I’ve answered. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you. I’m going to take the written question from Todd Barry, who is professor at Hudson County Community College? Excuse me. How safe is it geopolitically for U.S. professors to teach abroad? JASCHIK: How what is it? FASKIANOS: Safe is it. JASCHIK: Oh, how safe? I think it really depends on the country. In lots of countries it is totally safe, in that—you know, you have to be realistic. What is—how safe is it to teach in the United States is a legitimate question, in some parts of the country. To go abroad, there are real issues if the country is not secure, it does not have an adequate system for making sure that people are protected. And also, there are issues related to the potential in other countries for anti-American thought to happen and to be a cause of concern. At the same time, there are many countries where you will find yourself welcome. And I think it’s great for American college professors to look for those places and to go abroad. They will learn as much as they will teach. So I think that’s, you know, that’s great. FASKIANOS: Great. Don Habibi has raised his hand, and also written a—written a question. But, Don, I think you’ve put your hand down, but I’d love you to ask it yourself, if you could unmute yourself. Q: OK. Yes. Hi. Yeah, my question was triggered by the first AI question. And that is, what’s to prevent—or how do you check a student who writes a fabulous story of their overcoming adversity or their combat experience, or whatever it is that, you know, would just sort of bring them to the top of the applicant pool. And the likelihood of fact checking that sort of thing is pretty small. And I mentioned in the question that several times reporters won Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on stories, and they made them up. FASKIANOS: And Don is—can you give us your affiliation? Q: I’m a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. FASKIANOS: Thank you. JASCHIK: Yes, that is a real concern. And it’s not just in admissions. Colleges are worried about that issue in the essays they will assign to students to write after—you know, after they’re enrolled. There, they—some people are arguing for in-person writing. You know, in class, where the students will be forced to write it down. Now, some students say they can’t write a long, handwritten essay anymore, because all they can do is type. And I have some sympathy for them, but that’s what they’re saying. It goes back to what I said before. Colleges are working on solutions to this and going to try. I would say that a good admissions counselor should be able to see some things that come out in their applications. Also, some colleges are changing their essays so that they are more about the college you are applying to, to make it more difficult to use a copied essay. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. The next question we’ll take from Melissa McGinnis, assistant director of admissions at Yale University’s Jackson School of Global Affairs: What are your thoughts on how these affirmative action issues impact graduate admissions for professional programs, not PhD? JASCHIK: Sure. Yeah, well, I’ll tell you about both. In law schools, medical schools, business schools, it is the same thing. That there’s no expectation that this decision doesn’t apply. And they have got to redo their systems and procedures just like their undergraduate counterparts do. PhD programs actually are interesting, though, because in many colleges and universities, those decisions are done by the department level. And it is more difficult to control a department than it is to control a whole school. You know, you may have six members of the English department or whatever deciding on admissions. But they can’t use race. That’s just—and if they do they’re going to get sued. So that’s just the rules. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you. We have a raised hand from Sneha Bharadwaj. Excuse me if I did not pronounce it correctly, but you can correct me. Q: OK. So my name is Sneha Bharadwaj. I’m from Texas Woman’s University here in Dallas, Texas. I was following up on other questions you answered regarding the holistic admission process. And I’m wondering, beyond the handwritten essay, are there any talks about video interviews or uploading video prompts, where you hear from that person? And if that is something that’s in the talks or is being considered, because I think we’re all in the same boat of wondering how this holistic admissions is going to work. JASCHIK: Right. Well, and Texas Woman’s University is a great example. It is a—it is a university in Texas that has men, for those who are not familiar with it. It is not—does not just admit women. And it’s—and in recent years, it’s become quite popular and is growing with more people using holistic admissions to get in. So, you know, to do an interview for everyone, on the one hand, it makes perfect sense. You meet the people, find out about them, find out about their interests, et cetera. But in most colleges, and I don’t know if this is true of Texas Woman’s University, that is a major undertaking, to interview everyone, even via Zoom. And most college admissions offices will be hard stretched to interview every student. Also, there have been charges that admissions interviews favor or don’t favor minority students. They are said to favor them, if colleges want to admit more minority students. They are said to disfavor them when the students don’t have the same expertise in doing interviews as wealthier students do. And most of the wealthy students are white students. So it is something that they are looking at, but I am not sure it will work at very many institutions this year. Q: Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you. So I’m going to take the next question from Kurt Schmoke, who is the president of the University of Baltimore: Which states are using direct admissions? And will this spread to other states? JASCHIK: Great question. Nice to have a president here. And so, there are not any statewide requirements, but Minnesota is the state to look at. In Minnesota, they made it possible for any college that wanted to, to use direct admissions. And most of the colleges opted in in part. One college opted in entirely. They said, that’s the way you’re going to apply to get into that college. Most colleges, though, are doing it on a piecemeal basis, admitting just some students. And I’m curious, does the University of Baltimore—did you use direct admissions? FASKIANOS: Kurt, if you want to unmute and respond, that would be great. We’d love to hear your experience. Q: Sure. The closest that we have to that is dual enrollment programs that allow students to obtain X number of credits. And it usually is with the community college, some with high schools. But now I’m quite interested in this direct admissions. So I’ll take a look at what Minnesota is doing. JASCHIK: Right. You should do that. In Minnesota, the colleges that definitely didn’t do it were the flagship University of Minnesota campus and Carleton College. You know, again, colleges that get tons of applicants don’t need to, but it was all the other colleges. And if you search on Inside Higher Ed’s website, you’ll find a bunch of stories on the players in direct admissions, EAB, the common app, et cetera. There are places you can go. Niche does direct admissions. There are places that would love to talk to you, I’m sure. Q: Good, thank you. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next written question from Kevin Collymore, who is an assistant dean of retention and persistence programs at the University of San Francisco: How will institutions handle donor gifts, scholarships intentioned for students of color moving forward? FASKIANOS: Very carefully. (Laughs.) They will have to say that a gift cannot be used by the college specifically for minority students. In fact, some think the best way will be for colleges to work with outside groups, and to say: Don’t give us the money. Give it to the such-and-such foundation. And then that group may decide to give financial aid to minority students at the University of San Francisco, or any university. But this is very much in play right now, in that I think it’s one of the issues about which there will be a court ruling soon. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’ll take the next question from Mahmood Khan, a professor at Virginia Tech: Can you comment on anything that can be done about the time to get a U.S. visa? Students cannot join because they didn’t get visas on time. So I guess they couldn’t come this semester. JASCHIK: That is a terrible problem. And it has been a big issue this year. Many of the—going back to the pandemic—at the height of the pandemic, no one wanted to come to the United States. (Laughs.) And the United States didn’t really want them. Everyone was viewed as a threat, really, to the health of others. Since then, officially, they’ve opened up. But students from certain countries report incredible delays in getting their visas. And particularly these are students trying to travel to the United States from countries where there are many Muslim students, or many Muslim people and Muslim students. And they say they’re not rejected, but they just—it just takes forever for them to fill out and to get an answer. Now, why this is sort of—it’s subject to debate. Many of the people who work in processing visas say they are working as fast as they can, looking for the information they need, et cetera. Many in higher education view that very skeptically. And they see students who they cannot think of a good reason why that student should be denied a visa. And it just lingers. Some colleges have taken to educating students abroad for their first semester when they can’t get in. But that is something that only some colleges can do. And also, it denies the students what they’re seeking, which is a real experience at Virginia Tech, or any college. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Beverly Lindsay has her hand—I don’t know if that’s a residual from your last question or if you had a follow-on comment. OK. I’m going to move on, then. I’m going to take the next question from Michael Strmiska, a professor of world history at the Orange County Community College: Do you think that the ban on affirmative action in student admissions might eventually apply to academic employment? I teach in a community college with very low representation of non-white faculty and I think if the Supreme Court or other powers signaled that any diversity motivated hiring among minority faculty could come under dispute this would hamper or even halt our very slow progress toward creating a more diverse faculty. JASCHIK: You’re absolutely right. And many colleges do use affirmative action in hiring. The court decision itself did not speak to that. However, if you look at the justices on the court today and imagine a case involving academic hiring reaching them, it is hard for me to imagine the six justices would not also object to affirmative action in hiring. And that would be very limiting in terms of who colleges have to hire. Now, there is some leeway in that academic hiring decisions are mainly made at the department level, with some administration involvement. I don’t know if that will work. But I think you’re right to see that as a potential problem ahead. FASKIANOS: OK. The next question is from Galia Benitez, an associate professor of international relations at Michigan State University: You began the discussion by asserting that the number of Black and Latino students was going to decline. How do you see the actual class environment for professors and for minority students already in the system or in the future who form part of a minority would be teaching and learning in a less diverse environment? In short, what would be the consequences of these new admissions rules and learning? JASCHIK: The consequences aren’t good. We are already seeing racial incidents on campuses that sort of relate to the Supreme Court decision. And when the Supreme Court has taken up these issues in the past, they have similarly been incidents about race on campus. In terms for learning, again, I think it’s going to be very negative because students look to a diverse student body to learn, for all the reasons that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote back in 2003 still apply. Well, or I think they should still apply. They aren’t. They don’t apply because of the recent Supreme Court decision. I think it’s going to be tougher for faculty members who are truly committed on those issues. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I think Beverly has re-raised her hand, so I’m going to try again. Beverly, I’ll give you a few minutes to—seconds to unmute yourself. You’re still muted. There we go. Q: I don’t know what’s happening because I didn’t have another question. There may be a technical problem, but since I’m on I will ask something else. FASKIANOS: OK. (Laughs.) OK. Q: Scott, with reference to the international students and the international faculty, as we know in many of the tier one, AAU major research universities, and the ones also in our neighboring countries like Canada with the University of Toronto which is also a member of AAU and McGill, for example. A number of the faculty and the PhD students in particular—this is one of my areas of research—are in the STEM fields, but they’re from other countries. So how are we going to think of other ways to get diverse students, whether they’re Canadians in Canada, or Americans in the United States, to be able to pursue some of these programs in STEM fields? JASCHIK: It’s going to be very challenging. Look, in STEM fields international students are admitted not because only—in the past, haven’t been admitted only because of affirmative action. They’ve been admitted—there aren’t enough American students of any race or ethnicity to fill those classes. There aren’t. And that is true at any university in the country, really. Now it’s not that there aren’t talented Americans, but they are not—they’re just not in the right numbers to help. And so, you know, a bunch of things. When recruiting international students or recruiting any students, it’s money. And here, the University of California, I’m less worried about than colleges that are not as high in the rankings as UC is. But, you know, it’s money. And it’s also—it’s also mission. Why you come and do that. And it’s really important that professors have good answers to questions—to both of those questions, because they are going to be asked. But, no, it’s not going to be easy at all. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Beth Hillman. Beth, do you want to ask your question that you’ve written? Putting her on the spot. Q: Sure. I just—I’ll read it there. So how will the new return on investment economic models influence student choices about institutions and programs? JASCHIK: Return on investment, I don’t like the use of return on investment but I’m in a minority. And a lot of students and their parents love it. Look, return on investment is greater if you are a student in STEM at MIT than if you’re a student in English at any college or university. That’s just a fact. But to me what that misses is that in many areas the student studying English may have a perfectly good return on investment. And it’s important for colleges to publicize the actual returns that students get. Look, students who study English, and history, and political science, and whatnot, are not, in fact, as a group, ending up working at Starbucks And they, they have the ability to get good jobs. Now, most of them, they get good jobs by not staying as a—in that field. I am a history major. I am not a historian. And most people don’t seem to really understand that. But every year people will come up with more ways to rank colleges by return on investment. I don’t really put too much in it. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Please raise your hands if you have more questions. I see none—no more raised hands or written questions, but we’d love to hear from you. So I do have a couple, though. I wanted to ask you a little bit about how do you think the U.S. higher education admission strategies is affecting our image in the world, our global standing? JASCHIK: That’s a really important question. Look, most people abroad would love to attend a great American college or university. They felt that way during the Trump administration, during the Biden administration, during the Obama administration. They want a U.S. college. Now, that doesn’t mean that they favor the U.S. in terms of what the U.S. is doing around the world, but they do value American colleges and universities. There’s no doubt about that. And so, in fact, I’d say it’s a real loss that the U.S. doesn’t act with more on that, because—you know, potentially it’s a great, great reason to come to the U.S. FASKIANOS: And what resources do you recommend for higher ed leaders and administrators to better understand how to promote equitable missions, processes, or to navigate now what’s this current landscape? JASCHIK: Read Inside Higher Ed—(laughs)—and, you know, pay attention to the issues. If you are at an elite institution, there’s a set of questions that you have about early admissions, about legacy admissions. You know, why are you continuing those policies if they are specifically resulting in—(coughs)—excuse me—in the admission only of white students? Align your financial aid to admitting more low-income students. You can base it on income, not race and ethnicity. Totally legal. And, you know, why aren’t more colleges doing that? If you are a less-wealthy institution, and an institution of less stature, I would raise the same question, particularly about merit aid—so-called merit aid, is what I would call it. Because merit aid is really aid for those who don’t really need aid. And, you know, why do you do these policies that don’t—that don’t actually improve things in terms of your student bodies? FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Todd Barry. Again, it’s Hudson County Community College: Will any of President Biden’s debt forgiveness programs be upheld by the courts? And will college rankings involve more companies to become more diverse? JASCHIK: Companies? FASKIANOS: Todd, do you want to just clarify that second part of your question? Thank you. Q: Yes, thank you. Will there be more organizations that put out college rankings rather than just the two that do so already? JASCHIK: Ah, OK. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Q: Thank you. JASCHIK: I suspect there will be. I’ve yet to find a ranking that I truly like, because I personally believe that college—the way to pick a good college is not to look at what somebody else said are the rankings of colleges. It’s just not a good way. But it may be a good way for some people to make a lot of money, so the rankings will continue. I’m sorry. I just forgot. What was the first part of that question? FASKIANOS: The first part was—let me pull it back up—will any of President Biden’s debt forgiveness programs be upheld by the courts? JASCHIK: Ah, yes. I don’t know. (Laughs.) The most recent of his debt relief things are being challenged. And I don’t know. I really don’t know if he’ll be successful. It depends which judges the cases are before to tell. Yet, I think I saw—I read this weekend, four million have applied for the most recent debt relief, with more expected to. That’s a lot of people. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next question from Amanda Shanor, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School: Why haven’t universities used First Amendment arguments to defend their admissions policies? And should they do so in the future? JASCHIK: I don’t think that that argument would carry the day with the current Supreme Court. I just don’t. They were—if you read the decision, if you listened to the arguments that were made, they were wholly committed to getting rid of affirmative action. It may help in the future with a different Court, but I think we have the current court for a while. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next written question from Edie Gaythwaite, again, a professor at Valencia College: To build off the global conversation, do you see institutions actively recruiting international students as admission applications decline? JASCHIK: Definitely. Many colleges—most colleges have some international recruitment strategy. Now, at—at Valencia, I don’t know what your strategy is. But, you know, many Florida colleges, they are trying to—they have a tremendous advantage in Latin America, as opposed to Europe and the Middle East. That may be something that they are trying. All types of colleges are pushing for more students. And it makes perfect sense. They should definitely recruit more. FASKIANOS: OK. And then we’re going to take the next question from Sneha again, from Texas Woman’s University: How does removing scholarships and merit aid impact enrollment and retention? JASCHIK: It depends what institution you’re at. Many institutions use merit aid to get students who wouldn’t otherwise attend. And that’s just a reality. Most students are making their choice based on a combination of factors, both the academic quality of the institution and the money. And so shifting it is a risky business. Now, some colleges that are more prestigious have managed to eliminate merit aid. But the main problem for colleges that are not in the elite is that they are trying to get some students who wouldn’t come, to come. And they’re very nervous about eliminating merit aid for that reason. FASKIANOS: And now that the—the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, have the admissions or the matriculation from international students—is that going up again? JASCHIK: Slightly. The big study comes out, I think, in December. So we don’t know yet for this year. FASKIANOS: Mmm hmm. Great. OK, so I’m doing a final call for questions from the group. Oh, I think—oh, one more from Kurt Schmoke: Do you think that the Court’s exemption of military academies will undermine their rationale for ending affirmative action? JASCHIK: You know, that’s really interesting. And the group that led the campaign against affirmative action, they are right now seeking plaintiffs at all the military academies. So I don’t think it’s going to last long. And I don’t know. The court may have left it in place because they truly believe it. But in reading the overall decision, I would have a hard time imagining them voting to uphold it anywhere. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have a raised hand from Dena Bateh at NYU. Q: Yes. You pronounced that perfectly correct, thank you. My question is somewhat related, but maybe just on an alternative tangent. And it’s something that I’m going to be doing some research on. So I do teach at NYU, but I am an administrator at another institution. And I’ve noticed—I’m in New York City, of course. And I’ve noticed the pattern of referring to students as consumers or customers has been a prevalent topic. And I can’t even tell you how that boils my blood rather than, say, learner. So that’s my research topic. But I’m wondering, how is this being addressed? You know, to uphold the standards of higher education, what are your thoughts on moving forward beyond a Google certification or just certificates that will get students who are—who have not pursued higher education to a certain point, but then they’re going to need to return? What are your thoughts on that, I think, in general will be. JASCHIK: So I share your distaste, I guess, for calling students consumers. Look, you know, in a real higher ed environment, professors are teaching and they’re also testing students on what they’ve done, period. But there are some areas where a more consumer approach can work. I did a story about fifteen to twenty years ago about—I wanted to take an online course. And I sent off emails of my interest, didn’t say it was for journalism, to some nonprofit and for-profit places. And the for-profit places clearly saw me as a customer. And they wrote immediately—I mean, within an hour—and said, what can we do to help you? Blah, blah, blah. That spirit should be prevalent at any college, particularly that’s going to get a lot of low-income students. That’s how they will get more low-income students. So in some areas thinking about students as consumers is OK, but I hope they don’t do it overall. FASKIANOS: OK. I’m going to take the last question for Babafemi Akinrinade: In Washington State, minority students will number white students in a few years. Will the Supreme Court decision impact the efforts of colleges to recruit these minority students, especially as the state is worried about declining birth rates, while other states are poaching students from Washington State. And Babafemi is with Western Washington University. JASCHIK: So it shouldn’t. Look, it’s great if Washington State has great numbers of students. They should shout out to the world. More colleges should go and recruit. That’s just the fact of life. In the United States today, at Harvard—which was in this decision—they are a majority minority institution. So it didn’t really help them out, but it can help—but lots of colleges can recruit students of all kinds, in Washington State and elsewhere. And thanks so much for your invitation to speak today. And I hope you found it useful. FASKIANOS: We did indeed. Thank you very much, Scott Jaschik. I appreciate it. And to all of you for your questions and comments. We enjoyed this conversation. We will be posting the video and transcript online afterwards if you want to review it and share it with your colleagues. You will receive an invitation to our next Higher Education Webinar under separate cover. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow @CFR_Academic on X, formerly known as Twitter, and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org, for research and analysis on global issues. We also have a dedicated series for students and professors, so professors can invite their students to join the Academic Webinar series. And the first one of this semester is next Wednesday at, I believe, 1:00 p.m. So I hope you will join us for that. If you haven’t gotten an invitation, please do email us at [email protected]. Again, thank you all for being with us today. We look forward to your continued participation in our program series. (END)
- Higher Education Webinar: Implications of Artificial Intelligence in Higher EducationPablo Molina, associate vice president of information technology and chief information security officer at Drexel University and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, leads the conversation on the implications of artificial intelligence in higher education. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Thank you for joining us. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic, if you would like to share it with your colleagues. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Pablo Molina with us to discuss implications of artificial intelligence in higher education. Dr. Molina is chief information security officer and associate vice president at Drexel University. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Dr. Molina is the founder and executive director of the International Applies Ethics in Technology Association, which aims to raise awareness on ethical issues in technology. He regularly comments on stories about privacy, the ethics of tech companies, and laws related to technology and information management. And he’s received numerous awards relating to technology and serves on the board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for AI and Digital Policy. So Dr. P, welcome. Thank you very much for being with us today. Obviously, AI is on the top of everyone’s mind, with ChatGPT coming out and being in the news, and so many other stories about what AI is going to—how it’s going to change the world. So I thought you could focus in specifically on how artificial intelligence will change and is influencing higher education, and what you’re seeing, the trends in your community. MOLINA: Irina, thank you very much for the opportunity, to the Council on Foreign Relations, to be here and express my views. Thank you, everybody, for taking time out of your busy schedules to listen to this. And hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to learn much from your questions and answer some of them to the best of my ability. Well, since I’m a professor too, I like to start by giving you homework. And the homework is this: I do not know how much people know about artificial intelligence. In my opinion, anybody who has ever used ChatGPT considers herself or himself an expert. To some extent, you are, because you have used one of the first publicly available artificial intelligence tools out there and you know more than those who haven’t. So if you have used ChatGPT, or Google Bard, or other services, you already have a leg up to understand at least one aspect of artificial intelligence, known as generative artificial intelligence. Now, if you want to learn more about this, there’s a big textbook about this big. I’m not endorsing it. All I’m saying, for those people who are very curious, there are two great academics, Russell and Norvig. They’re in their fourth edition of a wonderful book that covers every aspect of—technical aspect of artificial intelligence, called Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. And if you’re really interested in how artificial intelligence can impact higher education, I recommend a report by the U.S. Department of Education that was released earlier this year in Washington, DC from the Office of Education Technology. It’s called Artificial Intelligence and Future of Teaching and Learning: Insights and Recommendations. So if you do all these things and you read all these things, you will hopefully transition from being whatever expert you were before—to a pandemic and Ukrainian war expert—to an artificial intelligence expert. So how do I think that all these wonderful things are going to affect artificial intelligence? Well, as human beings, we tend to overestimate the impact of technology in the short run and really underestimate the impact of technology in the long run. And I believe this is also the case with artificial intelligence. We’re in a moment where there’s a lot of hype about artificial intelligence. It will solve every problem under the sky. But it will also create the most catastrophic future and dystopia that we can imagine. And possibly neither one of these two are true, particularly if we regulate and use these technologies and develop them following some standard guidelines that we have followed in the past, for better or worse. So how is artificial intelligence affecting higher education? Well, number one, there is a great lack of regulation and legislation. So if you know, for example around this, OpenAI released ChatGPT. People started trying it. And all of a sudden there were people like here, where I’m speaking to you from, in Italy. I’m in Rome on vacation right now. And Italian data protection agency said: Listen, we’re concerned about the privacy of this tool for citizens of Italy. So the company agreed to establish some rules, some guidelines and guardrails on the tool. And then it reopened to the Italian public, after being closed for a while. The same thing happened with the Canadian data protection authorities. In the United States, well, not much has happened, except that one of the organizations on which board I serve, the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Policy, earlier this year in March of 2023 filed a sixty-four-page complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Which is basically we’re asking the Federal Trade Commission: You do have the authority to investigate how these tools can affect the U.S. consumers. Please do so, because this is your purview, and this is your responsibility. And we’re still waiting on the agency to declare what the next steps are going to be. If you look at other bodies of legislation or regulation on artificial intelligence that can help us guide artificial intelligence, well, you can certainly pay attention to the U.S. Congress. And what is the U.S. Congress doing? Yeah, pretty much that, not much, to be honest. They listen to Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT, who recently testified before Congress, urging Congress to regulate artificial intelligence. Which is quite clever on his part. So it was on May 17 that he testified that we could be facing catastrophic damage ahead if artificial intelligence technology is not regulated in time. He also sounded the alarm about counterfeit humans, meaning that these machines could replace what we think a person is, at least virtually. And also warned about the end of factual evidence, because with artificial intelligence anything can be fabricated. Not only that, but he pointed out that artificial intelligence could start wars and destroy democracy. Certainly very, very grim predictions. And before this, many of the companies were self-regulating for artificial intelligence. If you look at Google, Microsoft, Facebook now Meta. All of them have their own artificial intelligence self-guiding principles. Most of them were very aspirational. Those could help us in higher education because, at the very least, it can help us create our own policies and guidelines for our community members—faculty, staff, students, researchers, administrators, partners, vendors, alumni—anybody who happens to interact with our institutions of higher learning. Now, what else is happening out there? Well, we have tons, tons of laws that have to do with the technology and regulations. Things like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Sarbanes-Oxley. Federal regulations like FISMA, and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, Payment Card Industry, there is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, there is the Budapest Convention where cybersecurity insurance providers will tells us what to do and what not to do about technology. We have state laws and many privacy laws. But, to be honest, very few artificial intelligence laws. And it’s groundbreaking in Europe that the European parliamentarians have agreed to discuss the Artificial Intelligence Act, which could be the first one really to be passed at this level in the world, after some efforts by China and other countries. And, if adopted, could be a landmark change in the adoption of artificial intelligence. In the United States, even though Congress is not doing much, what the White House is trying to position itself in the realm of artificial intelligence. So there’s an executive order in February of 2023—that many of us in higher education read because, once again, we’re trying to find inspiration for our own rules and regulations—that tells federal agencies that they have to root out bias in the design and use of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, because they have to protect the public from algorithm discrimination. And we all believe this. In higher education, we believe in being fair and transparent and accountable. I would be surprised if any of us is not concerned about making sure that our technology use, our artificial technology use, does not follow these particular principles as proposed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and many other bodies of ethics and expertise. Now, the White House also announced new centers—research and development centers with some new national artificial intelligence research institutes. Many of us will collaborate with those in our research projects. A call for public assessments of existing generative artificial intelligence systems, like ChatGPT. And also is trying to enact or is enacting policies to ensure that U.S. government—the U.S. government, the executive branch, is leading by example when mitigating artificial intelligence risks and harnessing artificial intelligence opportunities. Because, in spite of all the concerns about this, it’s all about the opportunities that we hope to achieve with artificial intelligence. And when we look at how specifically can we benefit from artificial intelligence in higher education, well, certainly we can start with new and modified academic offerings. I would be surprised if most of us will not have degrees—certainly, we already have degrees—graduate degrees on artificial intelligence, and machine learning, and many others. But I would be surprised if we don’t even add some bachelor’s degrees in this field, or we don’t modify significantly some of our existing academic offerings to incorporate artificial intelligence in various specialties, our courses, or components of the courses that we teach our students. We’re looking at amazing research opportunities, things that we’ll be able to do with artificial intelligence that we couldn’t even think about before, that are going to expand our ability to generate new knowledge to contribute to society, with federal funding, with private funding. We’re looking at improved knowledge management, something that librarians are always very concerned about, the preservation and distribution of knowledge. The idea would be that artificial intelligence will help us find better the things that we’re looking for, the things that we need in order to conduct our academic work. We’re certainly looking at new and modified pedagogical approaches, new ways of learning and teaching, including the promise of adaptive learning, something that really can tell students: Hey, you’re not getting this particular concept. Why don’t you go back and study it in a different way with a different virtual avatar, using simulations or virtual assistance? In almost every discipline and academic endeavor. We’re looking very concerned, because we’re concerned about offering, you know, a good value for the money when it comes to education. So we’re hoping to achieve extreme efficiencies, better ways to run admissions, better ways to guide students through their academic careers, better way to coach them into professional opportunities. And many of this will be possible thanks to artificial intelligence. And also, let’s not forget this, but we still have many underserved students, and they’re underserved because they either cannot afford education or maybe they have physical or cognitive disabilities. And artificial intelligence can really help us reach to those students and offer them new opportunities to advance their education and fulfill their academic and professional goals. And I think this is a good introduction. And I’d love to talk about all the things that can go wrong. I’d love to talk about all the things that we should be doing so that things don’t go as wrong as predicted. But I think this is a good way to set the stage for the discussion. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you so much. So we’re going to go all of you now for your questions and comments, share best practices. (Gives queuing instructions.) All right. So I’m going first to Gabriel Doncel has a written question, adjunct faculty at the University of Delaware: How do we incentivize students to approach generative AI tools like ChatGPT for text in ways that emphasize critical thinking and analysis? MOLINA: I always like to start with a difficult question, so I very much, Gabriel Doncel, for that particular question. And, as you know, there are several approaches to adopting tools like ChatGPT on campus by students. One of them is to say: No, over my dead body. If you use ChatGPT, you’re cheating. Even if you cite ChatGPT, we can consider you to be cheating. And not only that, but some institutions have invested in tools that can detect whether or something was written with ChatGPT or similar rules. There are other faculty members and other academic institutions that are realizing these tools will be available when these students join the workforce. So our job is to help them do the best that they can by using these particular tools, to make sure they avoid some of the mishaps that have already happened. There are a number of lawyers who have used ChatGPT to file legal briefs. And when the judges received those briefs, and read through them, and looked at the citations they realized that some of the citations were completely made up, were not real cases. Hence, the lawyers faced professional disciplinary action because they used the tool without the professional review that is required. So hopefully we’re going to educate our students and we’re going to set policy and guideline boundaries for them to use these, as well as sometimes the necessary technical controls for those students who may not be that ethically inclined to follow our guidelines and policies. But I think that to hide our heads in the sand and pretend that these tools are not out there for students to use would be—it’s a disserve to our institutions, to our students, and the mission that we have of training the next generation of knowledge workers. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Meena Bose, who has a raised hand. Meena, if you can unmute yourself and identify yourself. Q: Thank you, Irina. Thank you for this very important talk. And my question is a little—(laughs)—it’s formative, but really—I have been thinking about what you were saying about the role of AI in academic life. And I don’t—particularly for undergraduates, for admissions, advisement, guidance on curriculum. And I don’t want to have my head in the sand about this, as you just said—(laughs)—but it seems to me that any kind of meaningful interaction with students, particularly students who have not had any exposure to college before, depends upon kind of multiple feedback with faculty members, development of mentors, to excel in college and to consider opportunities after. So I’m struggling a little bit to see how AI can be instructive for that part of college life, beyond kind of providing information, I guess. But I guess the web does that already. So welcome your thoughts. Thank you. FASKIANOS: And Meena’s at Hofstra University. MOLINA: Thank you. You know, it’s a great question. And the idea that everybody is proposing right here is we are not—artificial intelligence companies, at least at first. We’ll see in the future because, you know, it depends on how it’s regulated. But they’re not trying, or so they claim, to replace doctors, or architects, or professors, or mentors, or administrators. They’re trying to help those—precisely those people in those professions, and the people they served gain access to more information. And you’re right in a sense that that information is already on the web. But we’ve aways had a problem finding that information regularly on the web. And you may remember that when Google came along, I mean, it swept through every other search engine out there AltaVista, Yahoo, and many others, because, you know, it had a very good search algorithm. And now we’re going to the next level. The next level is where you ask ChatGPT in human-natural language. You’re not trying to combine the three words that say, OK, is the economics class required? No, no, you’re telling ChatGPT, hey, listen, I’m in the master’s in business administration at Drexel University and I’m trying to take more economic classes. What recommendations do you have for me? And this is where you can have a preliminary one, and also a caveat there, as most of these search engine—generative AI engines already have, that tell you: We’re not here to replace the experts. Make sure you discuss your questions with the experts. We will not give you medical advice. We will not give you educational advice. We’re just here, to some extent, for guiding purposes and, even now, for experimental and entertainment purposes. So I think you are absolutely right that we have to be very judicious about how we use these tools to support the students. Now, that said, I had the privilege of working for public universities in the state of Connecticut when I was the CIO. I also had the opportunity early in my career to attend public university in Europe, in Spain, where we were hundreds of students in class. We couldn’t get any attention from the faculty. There were no mentors, there were no counselors, or anybody else. Is it better to have nobody to help you or is it better to have at least some technology guidance that can help you find the information that otherwise is spread throughout many different systems that are like ivory towers—emissions on one side, economics on the other, academics advising on the other, and everything else. So thank you for a wonderful question and reflection. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next question written from Dr. Russell Thomas, a senior lecturer in the Department of International Relations and Diplomatic Studies at Cavendish University in Uganda: What are the skills and competencies that higher education students and faculty need to develop to think in an AI-driven world? MOLINA: So we could argue here that something very similar has happened already with many information technologies and communication technologies. It is the understanding at first faculty members did not want to use email, or the web, or many other tools because they were too busy with their disciplines. And rightly so. They were brilliant economists, or philosophers, or biologists. They didn’t have enough time to learn all these new technologies to interact with the students. But eventually they did learn, because they realized that it was the only way to meet the students where they were and to communicate with them in efficient ways. Now, I have to be honest; when it comes to the use of technology—and we’ll unpack the numbers—it was part of my doctoral dissertation, when I expanded the adoption of technology models, that tells you about early adopters, and mainstream adopters, and late adopters, and laggards. But I uncovered a new category for some of the institutions where I worked called the over-my-dead-body adopters. And these were some of the faculty members who say: I will never switch word processors. I will never use this technology. It’s only forty years until I retire, probably eighty more until I die. I don’t have to do this. And, to be honest, we have a responsibility to understand that those artificial intelligence tools are out there, and to guide the students as to what is the acceptable use of those technologies within the disciplines and the courses that we teach them in. Because they will find those available in a very competitive work market, in a competitive labor market, because they can derive some benefit from them. But also, we don’t want to shortchange their educational attainment just because they go behind our backs to copy and paste from ChatGPT, learning nothing. Going back to the question by Gabriel Doncel, not learning to exercise the critical thinking, using citations and material that is unverified, that was borrowed from the internet without any authority, without any attention to the different points of view. I mean, if you’ve used ChatGPT for a while—and I have personally, even to prepare some basic thank-you speeches, which are all very formal, even to contest a traffic ticket in Washington, DC, when I was speeding but I don’t want to pay the ticket anyway. Even for just research purposes, you could realize that most of the writing from ChatGPT has a very, very common style. Which is, oh, on the one hand people say this, on the other hand people say that. Well, the critical thinking will tell you, sure, there are two different opinions, but this is what I think myself, and this is why I think about this. And these are some of the skills, the critical thinking skills, that we must continue to teach the students and not to, you know, put blinds around their eyes to say, oh, continue focusing only on the textbook and the website. No, no. Look at the other tools but use them judiciously. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Clemente Abrokwaa. Raised hand, if you can identify yourself, please. Q: Hi. Thanks so much for your talk. It’s something that has been—I’m from Penn State University. And this is a very important topic, I think. And some of the earlier speakers have already asked the questions I was going to ask. (Laughs.) But one thing that I would like to say that, as you said, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. No matter what we think, the technology is already here. So we cannot avoid it. My question, though, is what do you think about the artificial intelligence, the use of that in, say, for example, graduate students using it to write dissertations? You did mention about the lawyers that use it to write their briefs, and they were caught. But in dissertations and also in class—for example, you have students—you have about forty students. You give a written assignment. You make—when you start grading, you have grading fatigue. And so at some point you lose interest of actually checking. And so I’m kind of concerned about that how it will affect the students’ desire to actually go and research without resorting to the use of AI. MOLINA: Well, Clemente, fellow colleague from the state of Pennsylvania, thank you for that, once again, both a question and a reflection here. Listen, many of us wrote our doctoral dissertations—mine at Georgetown. At one point of time, I was so tired of writing about the same topics, following the wonderful advice, but also the whims of my dissertation committee, that I was this close from outsourcing my thesis to China. I didn’t, but I thought about it. And now graduate students are thinking, OK, why am I going through the difficulties of writing this when ChatGPT can do it for me and the deadline is tomorrow? Well, this is what will distinguish the good students and the good professionals from the other ones. And the interesting part is, as you know, when we teach graduate students we’re teaching them critical thinking skills, but also teaching them now to express themselves, you know, either orally or in writing. And writing effectively is fundamental in the professions, but also absolutely critical in academic settings. And anybody who’s just copying and pasting from ChatGPT to these documents cannot do that level of writing. But you’re absolutely right. Let’s say that we have an adjunct faculty member who’s teaching a hundred students. Will that person go through every single essay to find out whether students were cheating with ChatGPT? Probably not. And this is why there are also enterprising people who are using artificial intelligence to find out and tell you whether a paper was written using artificial intelligence. So it’s a little bit like this fighting of different sources and business opportunities for all of them. And we’ve done this. We’ve used antiplagiarism tools in the past because we knew that students were copying and pasting using Google Scholar and many other sources. And now oftentimes we run antiplagiarism tools. We didn’t write them ourselves. Or we tell the students, you run it yourself and you give it to me. And make sure you are not accidentally not citing things that could end up jeopardizing your ability to get a graduate degree because your work was not up to snuff with the requirements of our stringent academic programs. So I would argue that this antiplagiarism tools that we’re using will more often than not, and sooner than expected, incorporate the detection of artificial intelligence writeups. And also the interesting part is to tell the students, well, if you do choose to use any of these tools, what are the rules of engagement? Can you ask it to write a paragraph and then you cite it, and you mention that ChatGPT wrote it? Not to mention, in addition to that, all the issues about artificial intelligence, which the courts are deciding now, regarding the intellectual property of those productions. If a song, a poem, a book is written by an artificial intelligence entity, who owns the intellectual property for those works produced by an artificial intelligence machine? FASKIANOS: Good question. We have a lot of written questions. And I’m sure you don’t want to just listen to my voice, so please do raise your hands. But we do have a question from one of your colleagues, Pablo, Pepe Barcega, who’s the IT director at Drexel: Considering the potential biases and limitations of AI models, like ChatGPT, do you think relying on such technology in the educational domain can perpetuate existing inequalities and reinforce systemic biases, particularly in terms of access, representation, and fair evaluation of students? And Pepe’s question got seven upvotes, we advanced it to the top of the line. MOLINA: All right, well, first I have to wonder whether he used ChatGPT to write the question. But I’m going to leave it that. Thank you. (Laughter.) It’s a wonderful question. One of the greatest concerns we have had, those of us who have been working on artificial intelligence digital policy for years—not this year when ChatGPT was released, but for years we’ve been thinking about this. And even before artificial intelligence, in general with algorithm transparency. And the idea is the following: That two things are happening here. One is that we’re programming the algorithms using instructions, instructions created by programmers, with all their biases, and their misunderstandings, and their shortcomings, and their lack of context, and everything else. But with artificial intelligence we’re doing something even more concerning than that, which is we have some basic algorithms but then we’re feeling a lot of information, a corpus of information, to those algorithms. And the algorithms are fine-tuning the rules based on those. So it’s very, very difficult for experts to explain how an artificial intelligence system actually makes decisions, because we know the engine and we know the data that we fed to the engine, but we don’t know the real outcome how those decisions are being made through neural networks, through all of the different systems that we have and methods that we have for artificial intelligence. Very, very few people understand how those work. And those are so busy they don’t have time to explain how the algorithm works for others, including the regulators. Let’s remember some of the failed cases. Amazon tried this early. And they tried this for selecting employees for Amazon. And they fed all the resumes. And guess what? It turned out that most of the recommendations were to hire young white people who had gone to Ivy League schools. Why? Because their first employees were feeding those descriptions, and they had done extremely well at Amazon. Hence, by feeding that information of past successful employees only those were there. And so that puts away the diversity that we need for different academic institutions, large and small, public and private, from different countries, from different genders, from different ages, from different ethnicities. All those things went away because the algorithm was promoting one particular one. Recently I had the opportunity to moderate a panel in Washington, DC, and we had representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And they told us how they investigated a hiring algorithm from a company that was disproportionately recommending that they hired people whose first name was Brian and had played lacrosse in high school because, once again, a disproportionate number of people in that company had done that. And the algorithm realized, oh, this must be important characteristics to hire people for this company. Let’s not forget, for example, with the artificial facial recognition and artificial intelligence by Amazon Rekog, you know, the facial recognition software, that the American Civil Liberties Union, decided, OK, I’m going to submit the pictures of all the congressmen to this particular facial recognition engine. And it turned out that it misidentified many of them, particularly African Americans, as felons who had been convicted. So all these artificial—all these biases could have really, really bad consequences. Imagine that you’re using this to decide who you admit to your universities, and the algorithm is wrong. You know, you are making really biased decisions that will affect the livelihood of many people, but also will transform society, possibly for the worse, if we don’t address this. So this is why the OECD, the European Union, even the White House, everybody is saying: We want this technology. We want to derive the benefits of this technology, while curtailing the abuses. And it’s fundamental we achieve transparency. We are sure that these algorithms are not biased against the people who use them. FASKIANOS: Thank you. So I’m going to go next to Emily Edmonds-Poli, who is a professor at the University of San Diego: We hear a lot about providing clear guidelines for students, but for those of us who have not had a lot of experience using ChatGPT it is difficult to know what clear guidelines look like. Can you recommend some sources we might consult as a starting point, or where we might find some sample language? MOLINA: Hmm. Well, certainly this is what we do in higher education. We compete for the best students and the best faculty members. And we sometimes compete a little bit to be first to win groundbreaking research. But we tend to collaborate with everything else, particularly when it comes to policy, and guidance, and rules. So there are many institutions, like mine, who have already assembled—I’m sure that yours has done the same—assembled committees, because assembling committees and subcommittees is something we do very well in higher education, with faculty members, with administrators, even with the student representation to figure out, OK, what should we do about the use of artificial intelligence on our campus? I mentioned before taking a look at the big aspirational declarations by Meta, and Google, and IBM, and Microsoft could be helpful for these communities to look at this. But also, I’m a very active member of an organization known as EDUCAUSE. And EDUCAUSE is for educators—predominantly higher education educators. Administrators, staff members, faculty members, to think about the adoption of information technology. And EDUCAUSE has done good work on this front and continues to do good work on this front. So once again, EDUCAUSE and some of the institutions have already published their guidelines on how to use artificial intelligence and incorporate that within their academic lives. And now, that said, we also know that even though all higher education institutions are the same, they’re all different. We all have different values. We all believe in different uses of technology. We trust more or less the students. Hence, it’s very important that whatever inspiration you would take, you work internally on campus—as you have done with many other issues in the past—to make sure it really reflects the values of your institution. FASKIANOS: So, Pablo, would you point to a specific college or university that has developed a code of ethics that addresses the use of AI for their academic community beyond your own, but that is publicly available? MOLINA: Yeah, I’m going to be honest, I don’t want to put anybody on the spot. FASKIANOS: OK. MOLINA: Because, once again, there many reasons. But, once again, let me repeat a couple resources. One is of them is from the U.S. Department of Education, from the Office of Educational Technology. And the article is Artificial Intelligence and Future of Teaching and Learning: Insights and Recommendations, published earlier this year. The other source really is educause.edu. And if you look at educause.edu on artificial intelligence, you’ll find links to articles, you’ll find links to universities. It would be presumptuous of me to evaluate whose policies are better than others, but I would argue that the general principles of nonbiased, transparency, accountability, and also integration of these tools within the academic life of the institution in a morally responsible way—with concepts by privacy by design, security by design, and responsible computing—all of those are good words to have in there. Now, the other problem with policies and guidelines is that, let’s be honest, many of those have no teeth in our institutions. You know, we promulgate them. They’re very nice. They look beautiful. They are beautifully written. But oftentimes when people don’t follow them, there’s not a big penalty. And this is why, in addition to having the policies, educating the campus community is important. But it’s difficult to do because we need to educate them about so many things. About cybersecurity threats, about sexual harassment, about nondiscriminatory policies, about responsible behavior on campus regarding drugs and alcohol, about crime. So many things that they have to learn about. It’s hard to get at another topic for them to spend their time on, instead of researching the core subject matter that they chose to pursue for their lives. FASKIANOS: Thank you. And we will be sending out a link to this video, the transcript, as well as the resources that you have mentioned. So if you didn’t get them, we’ll include them in the follow-up email. So I’m going to go to Dorian Brown Crosby who has a raised hand. Q: Yes. Thank you so much. I put one question in the chat but I have another question that I would like to go ahead and ask now. So thank you so much for this presentation. You mentioned algorithm biases with individuals. And I appreciate you pointing that out, especially when we talk about face recognition, also in terms of forced migration, which is my area of research. But I also wanted you to speak to, or could you talk about the challenges that some institutions in higher education would have in terms of support for some of the things that you mentioned in terms of potential curricula, or certificates, or other ways that AI would be woven into the new offerings of institutions of higher education. How would that look specifically for institutions that might be challenged to access those resources, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities? Thank you. MOLINA: Well, very interesting question, and a really fascinating point of view. Because we all tend to look at things from our own perspective and perhaps not consider the perspective of others. Those who have much more money and resources than us, and those who have fewer resources and less funding available. So this is a very interesting line. What is it that we do in higher education when we have these problems? Well, as I mentioned before, we build committees and subcommittees. Usually we also do campus surveys. I don’t know why we love doing campus surveys and asking everybody what they think about this. Those are useful tools to discuss. And oftentimes the thing that we do also, that we’ve done for many other topics, well, we hire people and we create new offices—either academic or administrative offices. With all of those, you know, they have certain limitations to how useful and functional they can be. And they also continue to require resources. Resources that, in the end, are paid for by students with, you know, federal financing. But this is the truth of the matter. So if you start creating offices of artificial intelligence on our campuses, however important the work may be on their guidance and however much extra work can be assigned to them instead of distributed to every faculty and the staff members out there, the truth of the matter is that these are not perfect solutions. So what is it that we do? Oftentimes, we work with partners. And our partners love to take—(inaudible)—vendors. But the truth of the matter is that sometimes they have much more—they have much more expertise on some of these topics. So for example, if you’re thinking about incorporating artificial intelligence to some of the academic materials that you use in class, well, I’m going to take a guess that if you already work with McGraw Hill in economics, or accounting, or some of the other books and websites that they put that you recommend to your students or you make mandatory for your students, that you start discussing with them, hey, listen, are you going to use artificial intelligence? How? Are you going to tell me ahead of time? Because, as a faculty member, you may have a choice to decide: I want to work with this publisher and not this particular publisher because of the way they approach this. And let’s be honest, we’ve seen a number of these vendors with major information security problems. McGraw Hill recently left a repository of data misconfigured out there on the internet, and almost anybody could access that. But many others before them, like Chegg and others, were notorious for their information security breaches. Can we imagine that these people are going to adopt artificial intelligence and not do such a good job of securing the information, the privacy, and the nonbiased approaches that we hold dear for students? I think they require a lot of supervision. But in the end, these publishers have the economies of scale for you to recommend those educational materials instead of developing your own for every course, for every class, and for every institution. So perhaps we’re going to have to continue to work together, as we’ve done in higher education, in consortia, which would be local, or regional. It could be based on institutions of the same interest, or on student population, on trying to do this. And, you know, hopefully we’ll get grants, grants from the federal government, that can be used in order to develop some of the materials and guidelines that are going to help us precisely embrace this and embracing not only to operate better as institutions and fulfill our mission, but also to make sure that our students are better prepared to join society and compete globally, which is what we have to do. FASKIANOS: So I’m going to combine questions. Dr. Lance Hunter, who is an associate professor at Augusta University. There’s been a lot of debate regarding if plagiarism detection software tools like Turnitin can accurately detect AI-generated text. What is your opinion regarding the accuracy of AI text generation detection plagiarism tools? And then Rama Lohani-Chase, at Union County College, wants recommendations on what plagiarism checker devices you would recommend—or, you know, plagiarism detection for AI would you recommend? MOLINA: Sure. So, number one, I’m not going to endorse any particular company because if I do that I would ask them for money, or the other way around. I’m not sure how it works. I could be seen as biased, particularly here. But there are many there and your institutions are using them. Sometimes they are integrated with your learning management system. And, as I mentioned, sometimes we ask the students to use them themselves and then either produce the plagiarism report for us or simply know themselves this. I’m going to be honest; when I teach ethics and technology, I tell the students about the antiplagiarism tools at the universities. But I also tell them, listen, if you’re cheating in an ethics and technology class, I failed miserably. So please don’t. Take extra time if you have to take it, but—you know, and if you want, use the antiplagiarism tool yourself. But the question stands and is critical, which is right now those tools are trying to improve the recognition of artificial intelligence written text, but they’re not as good as they could be. So like every other technology and, what I’m going to call, antitechnology, used to control the damage of the first technology, is an escalation where we start trying to identify this. And I think they will continue to do this, and they will be successful in doing this. There are people who have written ad hoc tools using ChatGPT to identify things written by ChatGPT. I tried them. They’re remarkably good for the handful of papers that I tried myself, but I haven’t conducted enough research myself to tell you if they’re really effective tools for this. So I would argue that for the timing you must assume that those tools, as we assume all the time, will not catch all of the cases, only some of the most obvious ones. FASKIANOS: So a question from John Dedie, who is an assistant professor at the Community College of Baltimore County: To combat AI issues, shouldn’t we rethink assignments? Instead of papers, have students do PowerPoints, ask students to offer their opinions and defend them? And then there was an interesting comment from Mark Habeeb at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Knowledge has been cheap for many years now because it is so readily available. With AI, we have a tool that can aggregate the knowledge and create written products. So, you know, what needs to be the focus now is critical thinking and assessing values. We need to teach our students how to assess and use that knowledge rather than how to find the knowledge and aggregate that knowledge. So maybe you could react to those two—the question and comment. MOLINA: So let me start with the Georgetown one, not only because he’s a colleague of mine. I also teach at Georgetown, and where I obtained my doctoral degree a number of years ago. I completely agree. I completely agree with the issue that we have to teach new skills. And one of the programs in which I teach at Georgetown is our master’s of analysis. Which are basically for people who want to work in the intelligence community. And these people have to find the information and they have to draw inferences, and try to figure out whether it is a nation-state that is threatening the United States, or another, or a corporation, or something like that. And they do all of those critical thinking, and intuition, and all the tools that we have developed in the intelligence community for many, many years. And artificial intelligence, if they suspend their judgement and they only use artificial intelligence, they will miss very important information that is critical for national security. And the same is true for something like our flagship school, the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, one of the best in the world in that particular field, where you want to train the diplomats, and the heads of state, and the great strategical thinkers on policy and politics in the international arena to precisely think not in the mechanical way that a machine can think, but also to connect those dots. And, sure they should be using those tools in order to, you know, get the most favorable position and the starting position, But they should also use their critical thinking always, and their capabilities of analysis in order to produce good outcomes and good conclusions. Regarding redoing the assignments, absolutely true. But that is hard. It is a lot of work. We’re very busy faculty members. We have to grade. We have to be on committees. We have to do research. And now they ask us to redo our entire assessment strategy, with new assignments that we need to grade again and account for artificial intelligence. And I don’t think that any provost out there is saying, you know what? You can take two semesters off to work on this and retool all your courses. That doesn’t happen in the institutions that I know of. If you get time off because you’re entitled to it, you want to devote that time to do research because that is really what you sign up for when you pursued an academic career, in many cases. I can tell you one thing, that here in Europe where oftentimes they look at these problems with fewer resources than we do in the United States, a lot of faculty members at the high school level, at the college level, are moving to oral examinations because it’s much harder to cheat with ChatGPT with an oral examination. Because they will ask you interactive, adaptive questions—like the ones we suffered when we were defending our doctoral dissertations. And they will realize, the faculty members, whether or not you know the material and you understand the material. Now, imagine oral examinations for a class of one hundred, two hundred, four hundred. Do you do one for the entire semester, with one topic chosen and run them? Or do you do several throughout the semester? Do you end up using a ChatGPT virtual assistance to conduct your oral examinations? I think these are complex questions. But certainly redoing our assignments and redoing the way we teach and the way we evaluate our students is perhaps a necessary consequence of the advent of artificial intelligence. FASKIANOS: So next question from Damian Odunze, who is an assistant professor at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi: Who should safeguard ethical concerns and misuse of AI by criminals? Should the onus fall on the creators and companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft to ensure security and not pass it on to the end users of the product? And I think you mentioned at the top in your remarks, Pablo, about how the founder of ChatGPT was urging the Congress to put into place some regulation. What is the onus on ChatGPT to protect against some of this as well? MOLINA: Well, I’m going to recycle more of the material from my doctoral dissertation. In this case it was the Molina cycle of innovation and regulation. It goes like this, basically there are—you know, there are engineers and scientists who create new information technologies. And then there are entrepreneurs and businesspeople and executives to figure out, OK, I know how to package this so that people are going to use it, buy it, subscribe to it, or look at it, so that I can sell the advertisement to others. And, you know, this begins and very, very soon the abuses start. And the abuses are that criminals are using these platforms for reasons that were not envisioned before. Even the executives, as we’ve seen with Google, and Facebook, and others, decide to invade the privacy of the people because they only have to pay a big fine, but they make much more money than the fines or they expect not to be caught. And what happened in this cycle is that eventually there is so much noise in the media, congressional hearings, that eventually regulators step in and they try to pass new laws to do this, or the regulatory agencies try to investigate using the powers given to them. And then all of these new rules have to be tested in courts of law, which could take years by the time it reaches sometimes all the way to the Supreme Court. Some of them are even knocked down on the way to the Supreme Court when they realize this is not constitutional, it’s a conflict of laws, and things like that. Now, by the time we regulate these new technologies, not only many years have gone by, but the technologies have changed. The marketing products and services have changed, the abuses have changed, and the criminals have changed. So this is why we’re always living in a loosely regulated space when it comes to information technology. And this is an issue of accountability. We’re finding this, for example, with information security. If my phone is my hacked, or my computer, my email, is it the fault of Microsoft, and Apple, and Dell, and everybody else? Why am I the one paying the consequences and not any of these companies? Because it’s unregulated. So morally speaking, yes. These companies are accountable. Morally speaking also the users are accountable, because we’re using these tools because we’re incorporating them professionally. Legally speaking, so far, nobody is accountable except the lawyers who submitted briefs that were not correct in a court of law and were disciplined for that. But other than that, right now, it is a very gray space. So in my mind, it requires everybody. It takes a village to do the morally correct thing. It starts with the companies and the inventors. It involves the regulators, who should do their job and make sure that there’s no unnecessary harm created by these tools. But it also involves every company executive, every professional, every student, and professor who decides to use these tools. FASKIANOS: OK. I’m going to take—combine a couple questions from Dorothy Marinucci and Venky Venkatachalam about the effect of AI on jobs. Dorothy talks about—she’s from Fordham University—about she read something about Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild reportedly adopting artificial intelligence to replace certain editorial roles in an effort to cut costs. Does this mean that the field of journalism communication will change? And Venky’s question is: AI—one of the impacts is in the area of automation, leading to elimination of certain types of jobs. Can you talk about both the elimination of jobs and what new types of jobs you think will be created as AI matures into the business world with more value-added applications? MOLINA: Well, what I like about predicting the future, and I’ve done this before in conferences and papers, is that, you know, when the future comes ten years from now people will either not remember what I said, or, you know, maybe I was lucky and my prediction was correct. In the specific field of journalism, and we’ve seen it, the journalism and communications field, decimated because the money that they used to make with advertising—and, you know, certainly a bit part of that were in the form of corporate profits. But many other one in the form of hiring good journalists, and investigative journalism, and these people could be six months writing a story when right now they have six hours to write a story, because there are no resources. And all the advertisement money went instead to Facebook, and Google, and many others because they work very well for advertisements. But now the lifeblood of journalism organizations has been really, you know, undermined. And there’s good journalism in other places, in newspapers, but sadly this is a great temptation to replace some of the journalists with more artificial intelligence, particularly the most—on the least important pieces. I would argue that editorial pieces are the most important in newspapers, the ones requiring ideology, and critical thinking, and many others. Whereas there are others that tell you about traffic changes that perhaps do not—or weather patterns, without offending any meteorologists, that maybe require a more mechanical approach. I would argue that a lot of professions are going to be transformed because, well, if ChatGPT can write real estate announcements that work very well, well, you may need fewer people doing this. And yet, I think that what we’re going to find is the same thing we found when technology arrived. We all thought that the arrival of computers would mean that everybody would be without a job. Guess what? It meant something different. It meant that in order to do our jobs, we had to learn how to use computers. So I would argue that this is going to be the same case. To be a good doctor, to be a good lawyer, to be a good economist, to be a good knowledge worker you’re going to have to learn also how to use whatever artificial intelligence tools are available out there, and use them professionally within the moral and the ontological concerns that apply to your particular profession. Those are the kind of jobs that I think are going to be very important. And, of course, all the technical jobs, as I mentioned. There are tons of people who consider themselves artificial intelligence experts. Only a few at the very top understand these systems. But there are many others in the pyramid that help with preparing these systems, with the support, the maintenance, the marketing, preparing the datasets to go into these particular models, working with regulators and legislators and compliance organizations to make sure that the algorithms and the tools are not running afoul of existing regulations. All of those, I think, are going to be interesting jobs that will be part of the arrival of artificial intelligence. FASKIANOS: Great. We have so many questions left and we just couldn’t get to them all. I’m just going to ask you just to maybe reflect on how the use of artificial intelligence in higher education will affect U.S. foreign policy and international relations. I know you touched upon it a little bit in reacting to the comment from our Georgetown University colleague, but any additional thoughts you might want to add before we close? MOLINA: Well, let’s be honest, one particular one that applies to education and to everything else, there is a race—a worldwide race for artificial intelligence progress. The big companies are fighting—you know, Google, and Meta, many others, are really putting—Amazon—putting resources into that, trying to be first in this particular race. But it’s also a national race. For example, it’s very clear that there are executive orders from the United States as well as regulations and declarations from China that basically are indicating these two big nations are trying to be first in dominating the use of artificial intelligence. And let’s be honest, in order to do well in artificial intelligence you need not only the scientists who are going to create those models and refine them, but you also need the bodies of data that you need to feed these algorithms in order to have good algorithms. So the barriers to entry for other nations and the barriers to entry by all the technology companies are going to be very, very high. It’s not going to be easy for any small company to say: Oh, now I’m a huge player in artificial intelligence. Because even if you may have created an interesting new algorithmic procedure, you don’t have the datasets that the huge companies have been able to amass and work on for the longest time. Every time you submit a question to ChatGPT, the ChatGPT experts are using their questions to refine the tool. The same way that when we were using voice recognition with Apple or Android or other companies, that we’re using those voices and our accents and our mistakes in order to refine their voice recognition technologies. So this is the power. We’ll see that the early bird gets the worm of those who are investing, those who are aggressively going for it, and those who are also judiciously regulating this can really do very well in the international arena when it comes to artificial intelligence. And so will their universities, because they will be able to really train those knowledge workers, they’ll be able to get the money generated from artificial intelligence, and they will be able to, you know, feedback one with the other. The advances in the technology will result in more need for students, more students graduating will propel the industry. And there will also be—we’ll always have a fight for talent where companies and countries will attract those people who really know about these wonderful things. Now, keep in mind that artificial intelligence was the core of this, but there are so many other emerging issues in information technology. And some of them are critical to higher education. So we’re still, you know, lots of hype, but we think that virtual reality will have an amazing impact on the way we teach and we conduct research and we train for certain skills. We think that quantum computing has the ability to revolutionize the way we conduct research, allowing us to do competitions that were not even thinkable today. We’ll look at things like robotics. And if you ask me about what is going to take many jobs away, I would say that robotics can take a lot of jobs away. Now, we thought that there would be no factory workers left because of robots, but that hasn’t happened. But keep adding robots with artificial intelligence to serve you a cappuccino, or your meal, or take care of your laundry, or many other things, or maybe clean your hotel room, and you realize, oh, there are lots of jobs out there that no longer will be there. Think about artificial intelligence for self-driving vehicles, boats, planes, cargo ships, commercial airplanes. Think about the thousands of taxi drivers and truck drivers who may end up being out of jobs because, listen, the machines drive safer, and they don’t get tired, and they can be driving twenty-four by seven, and they don’t require health benefits, or retirement. They don’t get depressed. They never miss. Think about many of the technologies out there that have an impact on what we do. So, but artificial intelligence is a multiplier to technologies, a contributor to many other fields and many other technologies. And this is why we’re so—spending so much time and so much energy thinking about these particular issues. FASKIANOS: Well, thank you, Pablo Molina. We really appreciate it. Again, my apologies that we couldn’t get to all of the questions and comments in the chat, but we appreciate all of you for your questions and, of course, your insights were really terrific, Dr. P. So we will, again, be sending out the link to this video and transcript, as well as the resources that you mentioned during this discussion. I hope you all enjoy the Fourth of July. And I encourage you to follow @CFR_Academic on Twitter and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. Again, you send us comments, feedback, suggestions to [email protected]. And, again, thank you all for joining us. We look forward to your continued participation in CFR Academic programming. Have a great day. MOLINA: Adios. (END)
- School Shootings Are a National Security ThreatIn the year since a gunman butchered nineteen students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the United States has suffered at least forty school shootings—perhaps most notably…
- Higher Education Webinar: Teaching the History of American DemocracyJeremi Suri, the Mack Brown distinguished chair for leadership in global affairs and professor of public affairs and history at the University of Texas at Austin, leads the conversation on how to teach the history of American democracy. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Thank you for being with us. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic, if you would like to share it with your colleagues. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Jeremi Suri with us to discuss teaching the history of American democracy. Dr. Suri is the Mack Brown distinguished chair for leadership in global affairs and professor of public affairs and history at the University of Texas at Austin. He has received several accolades for his research in teaching, including the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Contributions to the Liberal Arts and the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas at Austin. He writes for major publications and is the author and editor of eleven books on contemporary politics and foreign policy. And his latest book is entitled Civil War by Other Means: America’s Long and Unfinished Fight for Democracy, which was published by PublicAffairs. So, Jeremi, thanks very much for being with us. I thought we could begin by just diving right in, for you to tell us about what you think about when you’re teaching the history of American democracy, and what it means to you. SURI: Thank you so much, Irina. It’s really a pleasure to be here with so many fellow educators, CFR members, and various others—even some former students of mine, I think. And this is a great time to be teaching American democracy. It’s not necessarily a great time for democracy, but it’s a great time to be teaching American democracy because I think one of the things we do well as scholars is to help people understand and make sense of the confusion in their world. We don’t offer solutions. That’s really the world for policymakers to try to come up with solutions. It’s our job to help people understand the complexity and confusion in their world, to provide narratives. And, what we as historians do most of all, to provide people with an origin, a deeper understanding for what they confront today, which helps people to think about then alternatives for moving forward. We study the past, not because the past repeats itself—it doesn’t—but because the past opens up other opportunities for thinking about the present. If you don’t understand the past of our democracy, you think we’re stuck with all the problems we have today because they seem unavoidable. But if you go to the past, you can study the choices that our society has made at different moments and how those choices—which might have made sense in their own time—can be rethought today. So you’re not playing Monday morning quarterback, but you’re rerunning what Stephen Jay Gould calls the tape of evolution. And you’re rerunning that tape to see how there are alternatives in the past that can be alternatives for our present as well. So you study the past to look forward. And this is a great moment to teach the history of American democracy, because our students—and I mean students broadly defined, not just our eighteen to twenty-one year old students, our graduate students, our public students, various others—they see democracy as a topic that needs analysis as they might not have thought before. It’s not a topic now that’s prima facie fixed. It’s not a topic that’s prima facie set for us in the world. And what I try to do is begin by making the point to any group I’m talking to, like this group, that democracy in the United States has always been a work in progress. There was no founding definition of democracy. Different founders thought about it differently. And, yes, they thought we were a democracy. Let me make that absolutely clear. They thought we were a democracy that was also a republic. But they believed that we were a democracy. But they differed on what that meant. There’s no one single totemic document. The Constitution itself is not a totemic document on this. Our democracy’s always been a work in progress. And it has had peaks and valleys in the nature of its development. We’re in one of those valleys now. I think three questions that I always like to teach and pose that I think are at the core of the historical evolution of our democracy. First, what kind of democracy are we going to be? Back to Jefferson and Adams, of course, there was a debate right there as to whether this would be a democracy that would be built upon the yeomen farmers that Jefferson revered—even though he really wasn’t one himself—or a more deferential democracy as Adams thought about it, with a more Brahmitic—Boston Brahmitic elite that was able to set the standards. That debate, of course, goes on through Jacksonian America. And, from my recent book, the Civil War is the second American Revolution. I take that term from James McPherson, the great Civil War historian. It’s the second American Revolution, because it’s the moment when initial compromises on what our democracy should be are fundamentally rethought. And the question coming out of the Civil War, that remains unresolved today, is the question of what role should the federal government have versus state governments. Everyone on this call I think knows that coming out of the Civil War the apparent losers, the former Confederates, make a very strong argument for states’ rights. They even try to remake the war into a war over states’ rights. Which it wasn’t. It was a war over slavery, obviously. But the argument against federal power, in fact, grows in some ways. But the reality of federal power grows as the argument against federal power grows. Welcome to our world today. And one of the things I like to point out to students of all kinds is that this is an ongoing debate that has meant different things in different times. And we can understand both positions today, even if the actors themselves don’t as legacies, as extensions of that debate. And people play into it. The rhetoric that gets used—often horrible rhetoric—seems legitimate because it has been there for a long time. I’ll give you one example. Claims of fraud in elections, especially when the federal government steps in to different states that are not running fair elections, that is an old trope that has been used repeatedly. Used by Democrats, as I show in my book, in the 1870s and 1880s, used, of course, by some Republicans today. Second question: Democracy for whom? Democracy for whom? And this is a central element of my book, something I became deeply interested in, watching the difficulties of the last five to seven years and our society today. Democracy is, in a sense, the standard discourse of American society, but for whom has not been resolved. And the Civil War leaves that deeply unresolved. As I show in the book, very vividly I think, many figures who were former Confederates come out of the Civil War still believing that democracy is only for certain white men, or other groups. But fundamentally, that certain groups should be excluded. Ben Tillman is one of many examples. President Andrew Johnson is another example. Many, many figures. I show in the book that there are a lot of figures who never even accept that they lost the war. It’s not even a lost cause. It’s a continued cause. And their argument is a very simple one. That if I’m in a community that has ten white slave owners, or former slave owners, and there are a hundred slaves, and we go to a system of actually single person franchise across races, I, the ten white people, are losing our democracy. We’re losing our say in our community. Or that’s how it’s perceived. That, ladies and gentlemen, of course, is the same argument that’s going on about replacement theory, immigration today. It’s an argument, of course, that continues in the late nineteenth century. The multiracial argument also grows in strength, of course, after the Civil War. It’s the argument of the then-Republican Party. It’s the argument of Ulysses Grant. And it’s the argument of many communities that come into the United States. But I think it’s important for us to see today that our debate is drawn on exactly those lines, and to see how the exclusionary, non-multiracial democratic argument—although many of us might have thought that was a creature of the past—has resilient power. And you see that in its history across time. We shouldn’t undercount that. Most of us on this call probably lean towards the multiracial democracy argument, but it’s not only crazies who see the exclusionary, non-multiracial argument. And we have to be conscious of that and think about how, from history, we can learn to be better and more persuasive about that. And then the third point, the one that I really want to underline and that my book tries to underline, is how we’ve never really resolved how change should occur, when we want to change our democracy. The amendment procedure is very difficult. Hardly ever works. Impeachment never works. I talk about this in the book, and we’ve learned that more recently. Elections don’t resolve our differences. I point out in the book that from 1870 to 1900, all of our elections are closer than the last two presidential elections—closer, and unresolved. And that’s one of the reasons we don’t even remember who the presidents were between Grant and William McKinley. And so these things that we think that we’re taught in civics class that resolve our differences, don’t. Two things resolve differences in our history. One is the force of legislative supermajorities. And I want to remind everyone, and I want to remind all of my students always, that the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteen Amendments, three of the most important amendments in our history, right, ending slavery, equal protection under the law, and all that follows from that in the Fourteenth Amendment, at least in theory, and, of course, voting rights—or, prohibition of stopping some voting based on race. Those three amendments passed with zero Democratic votes. It takes a Republican supermajority to push those through, similar to FDR’s supermajorities during a New Deal, and similar to Lyndon Johnson’s supermajority in 1964 and 1965 to get us the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. We have this vision that there was this bipartisan moment when people came together. This is the Cold War narrative, the Cold War myth that many of us, as Cold War historians, bought into for a long time. Change doesn’t happen that way in our system. Change happens with supermajorities or change happens through violence. And we are a very, very violent democracy. Gun ownership is only one version of that. Recently when—I forget the name of the gentleman who broke into Nancy Pelosi’s house and attacked Paul Pelosi—when he was—when he was discussing why he did what he did with the FBI, the affidavit’s available online, he said—he used words that were exactly the same, exactly the same, as the words I quoted, before he did this, by Ben Tillman in my book. Ben Tillman was a South Carolina white supremacist. And what the man who broke into Nancy Pelosi’s house said was: I wanted to break her knees and wheel her into Congress so that the Democrats would see the results of their action, and act differently. Ben Tillman said in 1870 in South Carolina that he wanted to cut off the arms of all the Republicans and Black men who voted so that they would show other Black men and Republicans what happens if they try to vote. Bullying, and of course lynching, is the semi-institutionalized way this goes on until the 1960s in our country, and one could argue might still go on within some elements of criminal justice today. Bullying and violence is, unfortunately, another way that change happens in our society. Sometimes, as in the Civil War and the Union Army, violence is somewhat necessary. But the nonstate violence, the non-Weberian violence in our society. So supermajorities and violence are two parts of our history. We should today, as we’re looking at our democracy, not be surprised that we see problems with both, and that both are elements of what’s happening. I think many of us believe that we need supermajorities to get things changed in many parts of our society. Certainly, if we want to have voting rights we’re going to deal with the gerrymandering. And we also have seen an uptick in violence. And we shouldn’t be surprised by that. We need to be ready. I would say I think our democracy will survive, but we’re going to see more violence, I think. The historical record would lead us to think, not less. The last point I want to close on, because I know people have so many more smart things to say and ask about, but the last thing I want to close on, it’s a statement I make in the book toward the end. And I really believe this, and it’s strange for me to quote myself but I want to make sure I get the words right. (Laughs.) I think the historical record shows that democracies do not come together when they glorify their past. That’s an easy way to become a cheerleader, but they don’t come together that way. They come together when they strive to repair their past. I’m an American patriot. I’m the child of immigrants. I couldn’t do what I do if the United States had not taken in my immigrant parents and grandparents from Russia and from India. So I love this country, but I kind of approach it, and I think historians should help us to approach it, as good parents approach parenting. Which is you love your country and your kids, you support them, but you hold them accountable. And you say, because I love you, I want you to reach the values we believe in. I love my country. It’s the role of historians to point out the good things we’ve done—reconstruction of Germany and Japan that I’ve written about myself after World War II—but also the things, the places where we’ve not done well, and how we can do better. Not because we want to trash our country, but because want us to live up to our values. I think that’s crucial for our foreign policy. And I’ll close it on this point. In my study and my writing on the Cold War, and I’ve written a lot on U.S. foreign policy for prior books and articles, it seems to me we’ve been at our best, just as George Kennan predicted, when we’re setting an example for the world rather than running the world. And if we want to have the influence and want to return to a democracy agenda internationally, which I hope we return to at some point, we got to get our own democracy doing better. Our work in progress has to improve, learning from this history, if we want to have that influence in Ukraine, and elsewhere, going forward. So thank you for listening to my opening. That’s all I have to say for now. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: Jeremi, that was fantastic. Now let’s go to all of you for your questions, comments. (Gives queuing instructions.) Which we have our first question from Todd Barry, who’s an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College. In light of the fact that many of America’s founding fathers were slaveowners, how can we encourage our students to still feel patriotic? SURI: Great question, Todd. And I get that question a lot, especially as, I’m sure many of you do, when Thomas Jefferson comes up. And it’s not just that they’re slaveholders. They’re hypocrites, right? And we can find for any figure—(laughs)—certainly ourselves—but certainly any figure who deserves more reverence than us, we can certainly find evidence of a gap, a big gap, between ideals and behavior in our history. And so I don’t think we should apologize for the slavery of Thomas Jefferson and others, but I think what we should do is, first of all, we should show how many Americans struggled with this, as probably some of us struggle with environmental issues today. My kids think I don’t do enough to deal with climate change. They’re probably right. They don’t like the fact that I fly on planes too often to go and give talks places because it’s bad for the environment, right? They want me to do more through Zoom. I don’t think they want me more at home, they just want me to not fly. (Laughs.) Not fly as much, because it’s bad for the environment. And I think we struggle with that. I feel guilty sometimes, right, about some of our wasteful habits. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about the environment. It doesn’t mean that Thomas Jefferson didn’t care about human rights and civil rights. But it means he himself was dependent upon the slaves on his farm. He was trying to work his way through that. That does not apologize for his behavior, but I think it shows the humanity of the individual. And I think we have to avoid trying to create men of marble, but we also have to avoid trashing men of marble also. We have to treat them as human beings. And so I try to avoid getting people to say he’s a slaveholder and horrible or we should excuse his slaveholding because of the times he’s in, and more to understand the struggles of the individual. And then for us to think about, and as a scholar of leadership what all leaders struggle with, which is your ideals and your reality. I don’t think we should hold people in condemnation because they live short of their ideals. We should judge them on how well they try to reconcile their ideals with the world they’re in. And here, then I would stand with Annette Gordon-Reed, and Peter Onuf, and others. I think figures like Jefferson deserve our reverence for the thoughtfulness with which they approached these problems. But they also deserve our criticism for the moments where they fall into exploitive behavior that they don’t need. That’s the whole Sally Hemings story, right? That was not economically necessary for Jefferson. So I want people to be patriotic by seeing good people struggling even when they do bad things, believing in our ideals, and giving us models how we can struggle today. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Jennifer McCoy, who has raised her hand. Jennifer, if you can give your affiliation that would be great. Q: Hi. I’m a political science professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Thanks, Jeremi, for that great overview. When I talk to groups or to students about, you know, how we can get out of this current situation that we’re in, you know, we face the chicken and egg thing. How can we make the changes when the institutions are so rigid and our polarization is so rigid. So I wanted to ask your two solutions of violence and supermajorities, to get supermajorities, again, would require a realignment, it seems. But it seems there may be a third one. I wanted to ask you about this as well. What about bottom-up pressure? Although, I believe most of our problems are elite-driven, I’m thinking back to the Progressive Era, when bottom-up organization could be effective. So I wondered how you view that and how you kind of teach that. What I’m trying to do is give people hope that they can do something, empower them basically. (Laughs.) SURI: I have hope. And I’m a hopeful person. And I think—I often tell people, I’m hopeful most of all because I think the last few years have unmasked deep problems that many of us didn’t pay—myself, I didn’t pay enough attention to. Even as someone who’s paid to do it, even as a historian, I didn’t pay as much attention to these—to some of these issues. So I think that’s the gift of the last few years. I think—let me just go through your points here, which were so well-said, Jennifer. Our institutions are rigid. They’re designed, in a sense, to be rigid and hard to change. And then people double down in power that’s organized around that. But they are changeable, still. And that’s the thing about democracy, unlike an authoritarian or autocratic system. They are changeable. And, first of all, I think we have to be deft at finding the ways where we can make changes. And often that occurs, and maybe this connects to your bottom-up point, by starting local, starting within cities, and states, and places like that. And that is the progressive tradition, right, to use the city and the state as the laboratory. Now, that’s not going to work in the state of Texas, where I am. But it does work, to some extent, in the city of Austin. And it can work in other communities. So I often tell young people to really double down on learning about these issues at the local level, because you can start to make change there that can have a huge effect upon people. And that is one of the strengths of our system, of a federalist system. And it’s also a strength of learning the details, learning procedure, learning political science, learning actually how institutions operate, taking that seriously. It’s not good enough to just be right. You’ve got to figure out how to work through the institutions, what Rudi Dutschke called two generations ago, right, the long march through the institutions. I think when I talk about violence, there I’m obviously not advocating violence. I’m not even advocating peaceful revolution. What I am advocating, though, is the use of state power and, when necessary, with controlled violence in the Weberian sense, to control those who break the law, and to recognize how violence is being used by those who want to prevent change and want to harm our institutions, and to use law enforcement, true law and order, in that way. One of the best things I think we’ve done since January 6 is actually prosecute those who broke the law on January 6 as part of an insurrection. And we need to do more of that. And let me state very clearly, I think the historical record shows that if we want law-abiding behavior, we have to hold everyone accountable. And so if the evidence rises higher, as it might, we need to hold other individuals accountable. And those who have information must be required to share their information with regard to criminal behavior. So I’m getting a little—I don’t want to get lost in this. But I do want to say, the former Vice President Mike Pence will be in Austin on Friday. And if I have a chance, when I’m at an event with him, I intend to ask him this. Why will he not testify as a patriot about what happened? I’m sure I know the answer, but I think we need to press people to be part of the law enforcement process, because that’s how you deal with violence. And that is the legitimate use of the force of the state to protect our institutions and to protect against the bullying. I am for bottom-up change. I wrote a book about this years ago, actually, on the 1960s. I revere a lot of the bottom-up work that was done by civil rights activists in the U.S., activists in Germany, and France, and elsewhere, activists in the Czech Republic, or it was Czechoslovakia, that led to such important change. So I revere that. But I think that has to work by also getting into the institutions. And that’s what I mean by supermajorities. By getting into the institutions, by getting elected to office, by taking ownership of our institutions. What worries me, even though I’m optimistic, is when I hear young people say: Well, we’re disillusioned. You can’t do this through our institutions. No, I think we have to work through the institutions. We have to be supportive of that in one way or another. And I actually don’t think we’re that far from supermajorities on certain issues. Certainly where we stand as a citizenry, right? On many issues, there’s 75 percent agreement in our country, for example, that if a woman is raped that she should have the choice over whether to give birth or not. Seventy-five percent think that eighteen year olds shouldn’t be able to buy AR-15s, right? There are places where we have a supermajority of opinion. We have to force that in, and—this is the last point I’ll make, Jennifer—I think a lot of that comes through generational change. A lot of that comes through generational change. And that’s where our students have to be the next set of bottom-up leaders who get in and make a difference. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We’ll take the next question from Muhammad Kabir, who is a faculty member at Queens College. What do you think of the idea that political parties are gatekeepers in American democracy? SURI: Great question, Muhammad. Of course, they are. It’s a very learned and accurate question. They have always been gatekeepers. They still are gatekeepers. But they gatekeep in different kinds of ways. Right now, I think they’re gatekeeping more for those who can raise the most money. There was a time they were gatekeeping for certain ideological positions or certain various other interests, often related to money. It’s not unique to this—to this moment. But there’s no doubt that parties play a gatekeeping role. And some gatekeeping is good. Some gatekeeping is good, I think. We have to have a debate over what that gatekeeping should look like. I think the problem now, I’m going to say the obvious, is that for both parties, but particularly for the Republican Party, a very, very small group of people do the gatekeeping deciding in primaries. The primary system, as everyone knows, was created to open up parties, to get rid of the smoke-filled room. And I, as a historian, am not nostalgic for the smoke-filled room. If we went back to the smoke-filled room, we’d have an even less representative group of people. So I don’t want to go back to the smoke-filled room in choosing candidates for parties. But the primary system has turned out to actually be a pathological way to prevent representative figures from becoming party nominees. Let me just give you the numbers on Texas, which are extraordinary, right? So, in Texas, there are about thirty million citizens. About one million people—one million, probably a little less, decide who the nominee—the Republican nominee—for governor is. So one million people chose Greg Abbott in a state of thirty million people. That’s a real problem. That’s a real, real problem. That’s not democracy. Again, the smoke-filled room’s not better, because that’s going to be five hundred people choosing someone. (Laughs.) We need to have a system that’s more inclusive. And the parties need to be gatekeeping in a way that’s more representative—not purely majoritarian—but representative of our society. So what would I do? I would change the way our primaries work. I would open it up in ways that make it much easier for people to participate in the choosing of who leads the parties. I would require that the person running in the primary get enough votes that they’re actually representative of something like a large proportion of those in the state. And we could go on and on. We could take the gatekeeping process and make the gatekeeping process more inclusive, to still be gatekeeping. We’ve all learned to do this, right? We all are on search committees. And it used to be a search committee was run by three men who looked the same, and they chose someone who went to the same graduate school who they knew. Now we have procedures to make sure—it's not perfect—to make sure we have representative search committees. They’re still gatekeeping. But they’re doing a job that’s designed to be more representative. And we need to have that conversation about our primaries. This is an ongoing debate, back to the history, that’s been going on in our history for a long time. FASKIANOS: OK. Going next to Jin In, who has a raised hand. Q: Thanks, Jeremi. My name is Jin. I’m the assistance vice president for diversity and inclusion at Boston University. And I say that actually diversity and inclusion is the twenty-first century repackaged version of e pluribus unum. And that’s—and so as far as democracy is concerned, this isn’t just about political party. How do you address this to a whole group of diverse group where they don’t feel that they’re part of democracy? SURI: Great question, Jin. And thank you for all the work you’re doing. And I get that question from lots of students, actually, and lots of activists. It’s obviously probably the most important question. So I’m glad you put it so succinctly and so eloquently for us. Diverse—we have to begin by recognizing diversity’s hard. Diversity’s very hard, because of what Richard Hofstadter wrote about seventy years ago, one of the truly great historians of the twentieth century. That people, no matter who they are, don’t like to give up status and power, right? And the challenge with diversity is that those—there are those who have power, and there are those who are coming into our society and have gained and merit access for all kinds of reasons. And those with power don’t want to share power. Many call this—and you know this literature better than I do, I’m sure—the hording of privilege, right? And I’ll tell you, I feel this personally. I mean, as much as I pontificate about this, you know, my wife and I intentionally lived in a part of Austin where our kids would be able to go to good schools. And our daughter’s in college, our son just got admitted to college. And, you know, we’ve done all the things to get them access to go to privileged institutions, right? So we can pontificate about this all we want. We have to take a deep, hard look at ourselves. And so I think that to get people involved in this issue, to get them to see there’s a chance is, first, for them to recognize that this is a long-term struggle. That we’ve been in this struggle for a long, long time. And that should not make us despondent. It should make us to see that our time horizon has to be a broad one. Doesn’t excuse problems today, but we have to see ourselves as part of a long time horizon. And then, second, we have to be smart about finding the things we can do, the institutional levers we can push and pull that can have a disproportionately positive effect opening up access to people. That things that will help—and I’ll give you a few examples of things I think a lot from my historical work. It’s a central part of this—of my new book is voting. There are a lot of things we do that make it hard for people of color to vote. I’m Asian American myself. My father’s an immigrant from India. And I see Asian communities in Texas that have actually lower voter turnout not only than white communities, but than Black communities. And in Texas, Asian Americans are one of the fastest-growing populations, but their turnout percentage is actually lower than African Americans, which is, of course, lower than white Americans. And I think this is true in many parts of the United States. And I think there are things that the state of Texas does, if you look closely, that actually make it harder for Asian immigrants, particularly immigrants from Southeast Asia and elsewhere—to feel comfortable registering to vote, to feel comfortable going to vote. And Filipino nurses, for example, in Houston, there’s been a lot written about this, they tend to work shifts that make it hard for them on one day to go vote. And the state makes it harder for them not to vote if they don’t vote on the Tuesday in Houston, right, during the day. They had twenty-four voting two years ago. The state is now not allowing twenty-four-hour voting in Houston. Who doesn’t get to vote? So we have to be conscious of those things that sometimes don’t look like barriers, in addition to the obvious barriers, and push to change those. Make the case to change those. And work piece by piece. And how I try to get my students and others to be optimistic and engaged is to show them places where we have made progress and where we can continue to make progress in that way. States that have eliminated onerous registration requirements. States that have—and places that have made it easier to vote. It was a victory for us at the University of Texas in the midterm election. We added voting booths, and we intentionally put them in the parts of campus where we had more minority students. We didn’t put them in the places where the faculty were. We put them where our students were, and things of that sort. So we can do those things. We can start at home. And we can start to build upon that. But we should be realistic. We’re not going to fix this in one year, or two years, or five years. Q: Well, thank you. I’ll just say hook ’em, ’Horns. SURI: (Laughs.) Thank you. FASKIANOS: All right. So I’m going next to a written question. Trelaine Jackson, who’s the disability services coordinator for Fort Valley State University. What are your thoughts on the ongoing debate about critical race theory (CRT)? SURI: Thank you for asking that question, Trelaine. I hope I’m pronouncing your name correctly. I get this question a lot. I do a lot of work with teachers through the Gilder Lehrman Institute. I’m sure many of you work with Glider Lehrman, and through various humanities councils, including the one in Texas. This comes up all the time. And I give that background because I think on an average year, through workshops and things of that sort, I probably work with about five thousand different teachers. And I am yet to find one who teaches or knows what critical race theory is. History teachers are not teaching critical race theory. This is—this is a total made-up issue. It’s a total—it’s like fraud in elections, right? (Laughs.) It’s a total made-up issue, right? History teachers—I can’t comment on law professors. It might be different, right? But, again, law professors are not teaching undergraduates or high school students, right? (Laughs.) Among history teachers at the high school and college level, I don’t know anyone who’s teaching critical race theory. And I really don’t know anyone who could identify and tell you what it is. This is a made-up boogeyman. You know, once there were reds under the bed and communists everywhere. Now there seem to be critical race theory proponents everywhere. What most teachers are trying to do, even at the collegiate level, is get students to sit on their butts, turn off their phones, and listen, and read. (Laughs.) That’s what they’re trying to do. And they’re not indoctrinating. They’re not indoctrinating. Of course, everyone has biases. I have biases. Everyone has biases. But that’s actually not what’s driving any of the issues that people care about, really. All it is is a boogeyman to scare people one way or another. If you want more points of view to be taught, here is what I think should be done. If you want more points of view, create more opportunities for students to hear other points of view, but don’t try to cut off the legitimate teaching. And don’t disrespect teachers, who are every day doing their best. What teachers need—and this is why I work through Gilder Lehrman and Humanities Texas, they need exposure outside the classroom to material they don’t have time to learn because they don’t have the privilege I have of being a tenured professor who gets paid to sit and read and do research. They’re so busy. They have a harder job than me. Teachers, especially in the high school, or at a college where they have a four-four load, have so much more work to do than I do. They are in the classroom all day. They’re dealing with all kinds of student problems that I don’t see at a research one institution. What I try to do is to offer them workshops where they actually get paid to show up, and they can hear from me and other scholars about new research that then can then bring into the classroom. If you care about getting a more set—a diverse set of viewpoints offered, invest in that. Invest in the teachers. Educate the teachers. Do not attack the teachers. Do not make things up. And I’ll say what I’m sure Trelaine and others know really well, which is that the challenge we face—in part because of the CRT attacks—is lots of teachers are leaving the profession. And that’s a real problem. That’s a real problem. We need more talented teachers, not fewer. And we don’t need to attack them. So the CRT stuff, it’s a boogeyman. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Karl Inderfurth of St. Johns—actually, I don’t know—he’s with—let me get this. OK, he’s at George Washington University. St. John’s College is known for its great books curriculum. What would be your short great books list for teaching American democracy? He is just finishing up Carl Sandburg’s six-volume biography of Lincoln, and just finished a chapter entitled “America -Whither.” Still asking that question today. (Laughs.) SURI: Great question, Karl. And I am a believer in great books. I think our great books can be old and new. If we weren’t talking just in an American context, right, there’s no reason we can’t go Plato to Toni Morrison, right? We can have great books, they don’t all just have to be from people of another age. So I’ll give you my four that I think are essential. And this is in addition to reading the Constitution and reading—(laughs)—the Declaration of Independence. The first is also a primary document, The Federalist Papers. I think everyone should read The Federalist Papers and grapple. They are great for discussions because there’s so much meat in them, and they don’t agree all the time, even internally. Even the ones Hamilton wrote himself, or Madison wrote himself. So The Federalist Papers. Then I really like the classic book by Edmund Morgan, American Freedom, American Slavery. And that book makes the point, focusing on Virginia—written, I think, in the 1960s or 1970s—focusing on Virginia. Makes the point that American—the definition of freedom in the United States was connected to slavery. That Virginians thought they were free because they held slaves. And these are not contradictions. And that’s so important in thinking about how we think about race going forward. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, which captures so many concepts. It’s empirical in the time, but also captures concepts about social capital, associationalism that are so important to us going forward. And then I would—I’m going to actually give you five. I already had three, I have two more I want to—(laughs)—two more I want to mention here. I think it’s absolutely crucial that students get a sense of what happened in the Civil War and the Civil War’s legacies. I wrote a book on this, but I think the best book for anyone to read is James McPherson’s Battle Cry Freedom, which captures the politics of the war, the nature of the war, and the legacy of the war, as such. And then I really love the classic book that was written years ago by William Leuchtenburg on Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, which just gives you a basic—I think it’s from the 1950s—it was a classic book that gives you a basic overview of what the New Deal was about. There’s a more recent version, not quite as detailed, by Eric Rauchway, I think called What the New Deal Did [sic: Why the New Deal Matters], something along those lines. David Kennedy’s also written a book, Freedom from Fear. But one of those New Deal books I think is really, really important. And, you know, I gave you five, I’m now thinking of another eight I want I want to say, but we’ll stop there for now. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: That’s great. All right. There’s a raised hand. Stan Gacek. Q: Yes, thank you, Professor Suri. Absolutely an enlightening discussion. I am the senior advisor for global strategies of a—we argue that we are the largest union of workers in the private sector, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. My question is the following, Professor Suri. From a historian’s point of view, you have mentioned, quite insightfully, you know, what the role of supermajorities, and how supermajorities have been necessary in order to get things changed. But how would you, from a historian’s point of view, how do you assess now what are really anti-majoritarian institutions in our constitutional system, most notably the Electoral College? And from a historian’s point of view, why is it that we, as the American people, have not been able to change this system over time? SURI: Great question, Stan. And I struggle with this myself. So the Electoral College is a—is a really interesting phenomenon. First of all, almost no one understands it. I always ask my students, who have taken AP history before they come into my class, where the Electoral College meets. They think there’s, like, some college of cardinals somewhere that—I mean, people don’t understand how this thing works. People don’t understand who electors are. Most of us don’t really understand it. And it’s never been popular. It wasn’t even popular among the founding fathers. I wrote about this in an earlier book, and many of you know this, the Electoral College was a last-minute compromise. They couldn’t figure out how to elect a president. The founders believed that Virginia would always put up someone, Massachusetts would always put up someone, New York would—and how would they—how would they come to an agreement? And so they created this jerry-rigged system that they never thought would last. They actually expected that most elections would work the way the 1824 election worked, where things went to Congress. They actually thought that you were going to have multiple candidates, no one would have a majority, and Congress would have to decide. Which has only happened a few times in our history. Most famously, again, 1824, 1800 to some extent too, though that’s a more complicated example. So this is something that shouldn’t exist. The problem is, we can’t agree on what to replace it with. So this is a classic case of suboptimality, where we’re stuck with something because we can’t agree on what to do in place of it. That is something I tell another generation they’ve got to work on that. Every student I met thinks it’s silly we have an Electoral College. It’s time that we actually put work into something that would replace it, and building support for that. Now, that’s a long-term issue. That’s not going to happen overnight. But there are anti-majoritarian elements that have been misused recently that we can use history to help us un-misuse. (Laughs.) And one of them is the filibuster. And I’m sure you know this, Stan. The filibuster exists because Aaron Burr changes the rules of the Senate. But for the most part, the filibuster is rarely used and, when used, the barrier to use it is pretty high. Until the late twentieth century. It is consistently used on race issues, which is interesting. It’s consistently used to protect slavery and then to go against civil rights. But the barrier to use it is high. And it is rarely invoked. We have gone to a system in the last thirty years where on every issue if you don’t have sixty votes you can’t go forward. And so that means in the Senate that basically forty-one senators can stop anything from happening. And you can actually have forty-one Senators who represent less than 40 percent of the population. So thirty-some-odd percent of the population is holding things hostage, such as voting rights. I am a firm believer, as a historian, that the filibuster should not work that way. No one intended it to work that way. It is not good for our democracy. And that can be changed tomorrow. It can be changed in 2025 if one party has enough people who just change the rules. All you need is fifty-one, or fifty-plus-one, with the vice president’s vote. And I’m a believer that that should be changed. It’s already been changed for Supreme Court nominations, right? You got rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. Let’s just get rid of it for everything. Let’s go to reality and say if you have fifty-one votes you have a majority, and forty-one people don’t get to stop us. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Patrick Duddy at Duke University. The immense flow of undocumented migrants over our southern border and recently over our northern border have alarmed many and aggravated certain nativist elements in African—I’m sorry—American society. The numbers are startling. More undocumented migrants have crossed our border in the last year than there are citizens in a dozen U.S. states. But we are a nation shaped by immigration. How do you approach the history of immigration in the U.S. in view of the current political discourse on the subject? SURI: Great question, Patrick. And also thank you for being fact-based, because a lot of people talk about this without being fact-based. And I think you clearly know the details, probably know them better than I do. Look, the first thing a historian would say is that immigration has always been a problematic issue in our country. We are a nation of immigrants. I proudly stand by that, as a child of immigrants myself. But we’ve always been a country that has had strong nativist impulses, as you point out, and done a lot to restrict immigration. The most infamous example being the 1924 Immigration Act, that actually, between 1924 and 1965, created a quota system that made it very difficult for people like my father to come into the country. My father came into the country from India in 1965, after Lyndon Johnson passed the reform act of 1965 that actually allowed Indians, South Asians, to come into the U.S. in any significant number for the first time. And it changed everything, right? Silicon Valley, Austin, look at the South Asian communities. So this is a long-term problem. It’s not new to today. But what I will say is what has been not necessarily new but been striking about the last thirty years is our inability to pass any legislation. So the challenge that we have, particularly on the southern border, is we don’t have effective legislation to deal with exactly what you pointed to, which is the processing of people who want to come and deciding who gets to come in and who doesn’t. As much as I, in theory, would like an open border, we can’t have one, for what you implied. But we have to let people in. We need them economically. The Austin miracle—Austin’s the fastest-growing city in the U.S., right—is because of immigrants. There was a shortage of computer programmers every day in Austin, Texas, and we’re hiring educated people from India and Mexico. There’s a brain drain from those countries to Austin. We need immigrants, as our country does. You know, our demographics also. We don’t have the replacement rate population. And if you want to look at the country that doesn’t bring in immigration, what happens, look at Japan and the economic stagnation they have faced. So we need immigrants, as well as wanting immigrants ideologically. But we don’t have a process—an effective process that helps us to have the resources and to have fair laws that are actively applied to determine who comes in and who doesn’t. I believe that we should not allow families to come in, I think we should do more for political refugees—those who can prove they’re political refugees. We should do more also for skilled workers. And we can have various other categories—DREAMers and others. Some of my best students, by the way, every semester, are DREAMers, in my classes at the University of Texas. But that’s not to say we’re letting everyone in. And we should hold people accountable to the law. But right now we have a system of laws that are outdated. The last legislation was in the Reagan administration. We have poorly funded and mis-funded institutions. We have states like Texas and Florida that are sending ill-trained forces down to the border to do things that are intentionally not matched up with the federal government. And then, it has to be said, we are creating not only hateful rhetoric but misallocating resources in building walls, or pieces of walls, that don’t keep anyone out of anywhere. It is long time that members of Congress sit down and work toward the passage of legislation. There was a majority that agreed to a legislative package during the Obama administration. And it was filibustered, back to that—back to that point. So the best way to deal with this issue is to update our laws based on our values. That won’t solve the problem, but that can do a lot better. And I am deeply frustrated that we haven’t had the historical will or the political will in the last thirty years. That has to change. FASKIANOS: I’m going to go next to Jennifer Brinkerhoff at GWU. Do you think Supreme Court reform is needed to keep our democracy strong? SURI: Yes. And I have a strong historical argument for that, Jennifer. Thank you for asking that excellent question. Here is the thing about both the Supreme Court and Congress. I think most people know this, but it’s worth resaying. From the late eighteenth century until the early twentieth century, we expanded Congress every ten years. So we need more members of Congress for more representation. And we brought in more states. We need to bring in Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, as states. And we changed the composition and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. I point this out in my book, the Supreme Court numbers, the number and jurisdiction of the court, the actual operation of the court was changed by Congress three times between 1861 and 1872. To change the number of justices—for a time there were ten, then there were eight—to change their jurisdiction. And this was what everyone assumed was Congress’ role. Congress doesn’t get to decide the cases, but Congress sets the framework within which the Supreme Court operates. Since the late nineteenth century have we not only kept Congress at about the same size—so we now have 750,000-800,000 people per member of Congress in the House—but we’ve also—we’ve also kept the Supreme Court at the same size. We all know that the legal structure of the United States has multiplied in its complexity and scale since the late nineteenth century. And why we think that nine cardinals is still the appropriate number, and the jurisdictional demarcations make the same sense, it doesn’t fit with our world. We need to update that. And we could do something that would be very fair. We could follow the model of our appellate courts where, let’s say, we created nineteen, eighteen Supreme Court justices. And they rotated randomly in groups of nine to hear cases? So that way, you couldn’t also game who your Supreme Court judges were for the cases you were bringing. There’s no reason we couldn’t do that. We could give every president a guaranteed number to appoint, and then have others that are appointed when people pass away or retire. We could do this in a way that initially might give one side an advantage, but would set up a fair system, a fair rotational system, which is what we do for our appellate courts. And I think it’s long time we do that. I think something like this was recommended, Jennifer, you probably know more details, but by the committee that was brought together to advise on this. I think this was recommended. And let me say one other thing. That’s not packing the court, what I just described. What FDR was trying to do with the alleged packing of the court was actually trying to change the judges in real time so he’d get the outcome he wanted at that moment. I’m not talking about doing that. I’m talking about creating a long-term process that would make for a court that would be less political, because you couldn’t choose exactly which justice, and because every president would get to appoint. And a court that would be able to cover more issues more appropriately. FASKIANOS: Jeremi, just as a follow up, do you think that there should be term limits, both in terms of the Supreme Court and in Congress? And is there any historical evidence that that might make a difference? SURI: Well, I think the term limits on the court might make sense, because I will say, as a historian, the founders and most who have written about this through the twentieth century never assumed people would serve on the court as long as they have, right? Because life expectancies were not the same. People were actually not appointed as young, chosen by the Federalist Society or things like that. So I do think there’s an argument to be made. It think it would be a long term limit you would want. But I think you could say you’re dealing with the historical intent by assuming people don’t get to be Supreme Court justice for fifty, sixty, seventy years. That does seem like a very, very long time, in a sense. So I would—I’m not saying I’m advocating that, but I think one could make a historical argument for that. My problem with term limits at the congressional level is one that’s always been the historical objection, which is that in some ways further empowers parties and further empowers lobbyists, right, because if you’re constantly rotating, the new person who wants to run is dependent upon the party and dependent upon people who raise the money. So I’m not sure that’s the best way to deal with things, although I do think there is at some point enough time that someone has been in office. But I’d like to make it easier for people to run, and easier for people through primaries, as well as through general elections, to vote someone else in. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Damian Odunze. I hope I pronounced that correctly. Assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at Delta State University in Mississippi. How can we address the structural problems that confront the criminal justice system, for instance police use of excessive force? Do we have a problem of a few rotten apples, or do we need to address institutional inadequacies? SURI: So this is a great question, Damian. A question my students are asking all the time. And this is one I’m actually optimistic on. I think we’ve made progress since George Floyd, or in the aftermath, or around this period, despite what recently happened in Memphis and what happens in Austin quite often here. We’ve made progress, because people are much more aware of these issues. I think we start by understanding the very severe problems of the criminal justice system by talking about precisely the history we’ve been talking about today. Our criminal justice system is not entirely, but is in part, an extension—an extension of a slave system, slave enforcement system, and even more so a post-Civil War system of protecting white supremacy in our society. And that’s incontrovertible when you look at the evidence. Let me make this as clear as I can. I show this in the book, and I could have shown it even more. There’s only so much about this you can write about in one book. But most of the violence that occurs in major areas after the Civil War, which involves rioting and violence to prevent people from voting, to prevent African American and Jewish communities, and immigrant communities living places. The Memphis riot in 1866, New Orleans, Colfax, 1873. Almost all of this involves local policing not simply allowing this to happen, being responsible for much of it. Almost every one of these police forces are involved with the violence. Now, current police officers are not those people. Many of my students have become police officers. My cousin just retired from, I think, twenty-eight years on the New York City Police Department, where he survived. I’m so—he’s one of the best public servants I know. Richard Mack is his name. I have a deep respect for police officers. That’s not the problem. The problem is the structure of policing, the attitudes that are encouraged, the practice and behavior, the violence that is used and now has gone upscale with new weapons that are acquired. It’s a classic case of what you call, Damian, right, structural or institutional racism. Doesn’t make the individuals racist. But we need to understand that—I’ll give a very concrete example of this. My wife happens to be on the city council here in Austin. And she looked at the curriculum for cadets. And the curriculum for cadets was not teaching them to understand the communities they were dealing with. In fact, just the opposite. They were taught a civics course that did not mention slavery in Austin, Texas. And how can you understand that—in Austin 1924, there was forced segregation. Entire community of African Americans were forced to move from one part of town to another. Police officers are not taught that history. Now they are, because my wife got involved. That’s a classic case, I think, not of the racism of the officers, but of the institutionalized racism. And I’m optimistic, Damian, not because I don’t see resistance to changing that, but because we are all more aware. Every one of my students now has seen a video of something like what happened to George Floyd. And every one of my students recognizes it as a problem. And you can’t solve a problem till you recognize it. And we’re farther along now in recognizing it. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Question from Julie Hershenberg from Texas, Collin College in Plano, Texas. I’m always struggling to find unbiased news sources for my students to help them stay current. What are your suggestions? SURI: Great, great question on that. I don’t think there’s one. I think what we’re teaching our students to do is to go to real, serious sources that try to be unbiased, even though they are not. And that’s the big difference. Is the source fact-based, as best as it can? And is it self-reflective on its own biases? And is it trying to get beyond those biases? So I’m very predictable on this. I want my students to read the New York Times. I want them to read the Wall Street Journal. I want them to read either the Financial Times or the Economist, particularly on the U.S., how those sites view the U.S. I want them, of course, to read Foreign Affairs on foreign policy, and the Foreign Affairs website. And others as well, right? But the point is, there’s a difference—this is what I’m trying to get across to my students—there’s a difference between those sites and sites that have not the same elements of fact-checking nor the same effort to be unbiased. Whether you like Fox News or not, Fox News is not trying to be unbiased. That’s now documented. MSNBC I don’t think tries to be unbiased. I like MSNBC. I sometimes go on MSNBC as a guest. But I don’t think MSNBC tries to be unbiased either. So I think it’s a lot better than Fox News personally, but I don’t think it's—that’s as good a source as the others. And so those are the things. For basic news coverage day to day, especially students who want to follow international affairs not just U.S. affairs, I still think the gold standard is the BBC. You know, I find bbc.com to be the best. If I want to know what’s going on in Turkey, that’s what I look at. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Let’s go to—back to Todd Barry, Hudson County Community College. Is another constitutional convention possible? And would it be meaningful with new constitutional amendments? Or could it be dangerous, with too much change? SURI: Yeah. I have a colleague, a wonderful, very distinguished colleague, Sanford Levinson, who has been arguing for a new constitutional convention for, like, thirty years. And he’s arguing for it from the left. And then my governor, Greg Abbott, is arguing for a constitutional convention from the right. I think a constitutional convention would be a disaster. The last thing I want us to do is throw away two hundred years of wisdom and try to start again. But I do think we need amendments to the Constitution. And our Constitution makes it hard, but we can rewrite the Constitution. So I’m for rewriting the Constitution. I’m not for starting over, because I’m a Burkean. I’m not for revolution. I’m for building on the wisdom of the past. And we have a lot of wisdom to build on. My problem is not that we don’t have the wisdom. I mean, I’m a historian so I’m obviously going to say this. It’s not that the problem is the absence of wisdom. It’s whether we’re willing to learn it and use it. So let’s study the Constitution, and then let’s change it. Let’s not try to throw it away and start again. FASKIANOS: And, Jeremi, I’ll ask you the final question. Do you think, as you’re seeing students come into your university, do you think that there should be more systemized teaching of civics and history across the states? Because each state, as you mentioned with what the officers are studying, their civics didn’t mention slavery. So what does that look like for students, and how it’s being taught in different states—history? SURI: Yes. I think civics should be taught. I think we should be less prescriptive. I am for empowering teachers. I think we should—in the same way we invest a lot in educating science teachers, and math teachers—we don’t do enough, obviously, but we do a lot in that—we should be doing more to invest in an attractive career path for people to teach civics, to each constitutional and American history, and to teach it across the board, to be supported in doing that, to be given material and then left to their devices to teach. And that should be something supported not just by the federal government financially, it should be encouraged by our country as a whole. What I have witnessed is actually students are coming into my classrooms from all over the country, from very good high schools. It’s very hard—to get into UT now you have to be in the top 5 percent of your class, at least. It’s really hard to get in. They come from great schools with lots of AP credits. And they haven’t learned basic—they haven’t read the Constitution. They don’t understand basic things. And that shouldn’t be the case. We can do better. I don’t think we’re worse than we were, but we can do better. We can do better. And I think that should be a national mission. But I don’t want that to be civics taught just one way. I want use to actually train teachers to do it, and then let them run, let them do—let them do the teaching. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much for this hour. This was fantastic. We really appreciate your insights, and for all your work on this. Again, I commend Jeremi Suri’s book Civil War by Other Means: America’s Long and Unfinished Fight for Democracy. If you haven’t already read it, you should. And we really appreciate your being with us. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeremisuri. SURI: And if I might, Irina, I also have a podcast called This is Democracy, where each week we talk about these issues. We bring on people to talk. We just had Jonathan Alter on this week to talk about Jimmy Carter and his legacy, positive and negative, for our democracy. We had John Sipher on last week or the week before talking about the CIA and its role in our democracy. So please listen. It’s called This is Democracy. It’s free. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. And we are going to continue this conversation on the future of democracy with our next webinar with CFR President Richard Haass on Tuesday, March 7 at 3:00 p.m. As many of you know, he’s written a book entitled The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens, and feels very strongly about how we need to be training and teaching young adults about their obligations. SURI: It’s a great book. I just want to—I want to pitch for Richard. He’s a friend, so I’m biased. But it’s a great book, and I hope you all will come and—read my book first, and then read his book. But you should— FASKIANOS: Oh, OK, but—(laughs)—I won’t tell him you listed it, but I will share your endorsement. (Laughs.) SURI: Tell Richard—tell Richard I was pushing his book. It is a great book. I highly recommend it. It’s very readable for students also. I’ve actually already given some of it to my students to read. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. So in the meantime, please do follow us at @CFR_Academic, go to CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com—Jeremi already mentioned Foreign Affairs—and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. It was great to be with you all, and with you, Jeremi. Wishing you all a good rest of your day. SURI: Thank you, everyone. Thank you. (END)