Planning for Higher Education Journal

Planners as Sensemakers and Sensegiver

Reshaping Austerity in College and University Planning
From Volume 39 Number 2 | January–March 2011
By Nathan Frederick Harris

Before the recession, planning offices were the workhorses supporting institutional growth strategies by translating the ambitions of senior administrators into action. However, the recession derailed many institutional ambitions; austerity suddenly supplanted growth. The future role of planners seems uncertain beyond operationalizing short-term damage control. Yet this article asserts that planners are uniquely positioned to assume an essential role in colleges and universities: sensemakers and sensegivers. Through sensemaking and sensegiving, planners can focus institutional dialogue on the meaning of austerity. Instead of accepting resource constraints as a ubiquitous rationale for retrenchment, planners can guide institutional dialogue toward acknowledging that new constraints merely discipline earlier ambitions within new parameters.

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