Before the necessary triage that took most of our attention this spring, educators across all sectors were energetically leading a broad array of quality and equity reform endeavors designed to ensure that colleges and universities would expand opportunities for the nation’s new majority of college learners: first-generation students, students of color, adults, and military veterans—often working, often low-income. Conventional wisdom might indicate that institutions should maintain a holding pattern on those reforms for the coming academic year. As long-term leaders in ongoing reform efforts, we urge a different view.

As we neared the end of the last semester, faculty created final exams and students stressed out trying to study for them—just like every semester. But spring 2020 was not like every semester. So how could we have final exams? How could we develop a good, valid, and reasonable way to measure student learning at the end of the course? Now we’re in a position where being innovative isn’t just a good thing—we MUST do it for our students.

What does it mean to learn and lead from a place of hope during these exceedingly uncertain times? Research tells us that, particularly during periods of uncertainty, hope tilts us toward action and toward engaging with life—even as we remain uncertain about what will happen next.

Switching from a face-to-face classroom environment to exclusively online instruction often involves substantial changes for faculty, students, and programs. The shift to remote instruction has led faculty to develop new and different ways of presenting course content, new ways for students to engage in learning, and new methods for assessing the learning. However, the learning outcomes or course objectives should remain constant even with the shift online.

For Black borrowers, student loan debt had reached a crisis level before COVID-19. The same racist structures that make Black people more likely to die from COVID-19 or experience financial hardship from the pandemic are the same structures that created the Black student debt crisis.

In the field of global learning, we often focus on the international aspects of our work. Yet the current fury against racial injustice in the United States demands that we acknowledge that the local is global and that we face complex problems in our own communities that are our own responsibility.