(Photo: the retreat of the Eliot Glaicer on Oregon’s Mount Hood)
“What’s the bravest thing you ever did? He spat in the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said.”
– Cormac McCarthy, The Road
You may wonder why I’d begin a blog post about communications in higher education with a quote from the apocalyptical novels of Cormac McCarthy. I’ll give you a couple reasons. First, I’m an English major. And second, it’s starting to feel like the end times are upon us. On November 9, many of us awoke to the feeling that we are now all living in a Cormac McCarthy novel.
Some have dubbed this post-fact America. A place where polls failed to predict outcomes and facts and data failed to sway huge swaths of voters. We’ve seen a deluge of fake news. A representative of the incoming administration recently claimed that, “there’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.” The distressing thing about this statement, beyond the awkward use of commas, is that we in higher education hang our hats on facts. Universities are all about peer-reviewed science, academic rigor and a piece of paper that is a bulletproof assertion that a student has mastered the basics of her discipline.