Toni Morrison and the Call to Imagine

Perhaps it is less clear, or less clearly stated, however, that robust career preparation requires the intentional and focused cultivation of the imagination—the ability to dream, speculate, and create the world not as it is but as it might and should be.

Throughout my time as a college educator, the purpose of higher education has become more and more tied to career preparation. This is not news to anyone. The shift to career preparation has been explained, re-explained, and debated by many of us for the last decade with few surprises along the way, save for the occasional fresh takes like Dan Barrett’s recovery of what he calls “The Day the Purpose of College Changed.”

In many ways, the attention and resources being given to career services align with best practices and offer holistic care for students as learners and as people. Colleges and universities must take career preparation seriously not only to recruit and retain students and thus survive this era of uncertainty but also to support students’ intellectual, social, mental, and economic wellness. Career preparation is, in my mind, a matter of justice in higher education today. It is also, however, too often narrowly designed and practiced.

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