Right now, we have entered into what we call “phase 2” of summer. In the first phase, we focused on preparing for the NLA midyear retreat and ensuring that everything would go as smooth as possible. Currently, we are preparing for next year’s conference but in a different way. While the first half of the summer focused on the logistics of the conference, we are currently working on its contents. One of the vital parts of the conference is the case study we compose for fellows to analyze. The case study includes a fictitious problem that we come up with based on current issues facing higher education and it is based in a fictitious college we have created for the purpose of the case study. The fellows are tasked with analyzing the events of this problem as well as attempting to come up with a solution for it. The case study includes a prologue, a description of the case, and several artifacts. These artifacts are made-up reactions to the problem, such as student tweets, interviews, videos of protests, columns in the student paper, etc. Because everything is fictitious, we are tasked with writing everything for the case study because we cannot pull any artifacts from real-life situations.
The first step of writing a case study is coming up with the issue it will be focused on. Our broad idea right now is is the issue of free speech on campus. This issue has been widespread across many campuses as we see many speakers being protested, sometimes peacefully and at times violently. As we write the case, we take no stand on the issue. This is important so that the fellows are able to formulate their own ideas and solutions without feeling pressured to act in a certain way. Currently, we are in the research stage. My job right now is to find real cases that we might base our case study on. This ranges from protests on campus to the Campus Free Speech Act passed in Wisconsin. We use these cases to inspire us and to help us come up with an original idea that the fellows may not have encountered before. We have yet to narrow our search down to the scenario we want our case to be focused on, but we are close. After we decide on what issue we want to focus, more research will be done and then the writing will begin.