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Tumultuous waters and turbulent times: JEDI, humanities, and intellectual leadership in American higher education

Nicolette DeVille Christensen (IAUP, Coventry, UK)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 8 November 2022

Issue publication date: 2 February 2023




This study aims to raise the issue of the president as the intellectual leader of the university in that they are the voice of the importance of the Humanities, both in inclusion and diversity measures, in decolonizing the curriculum and recognizing the importance of teaching life skills to students.


Discussion focuses on unrealistic workloads of university and college presidents which have engendered a move away from the president as central to the academic mission. It is drawn from the author's 30 years of service in senior leadership posts at institutions, very diverse in their scope, size and mission.


No matter how much data is produced in support of the importance of the Humanities to the mission of the undergraduate degree, support continues to decline. Because we are all enmeshed in the sound bite approach, perhaps we can take back the narrative through organizations, social media outlets, but mostly to install presidents as the intellectual leadership of the institution.


The author’s perspectives are those having served a variety of institutions over time in senior-level positions, including vice-presidential support to presidents, but also from the experience of being a university president.



Christensen, N.D. (2023), "Tumultuous waters and turbulent times: JEDI, humanities, and intellectual leadership in American higher education", On the Horizon, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 35-41.



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