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Learning Resources

Where planning comes together. T​he power of SCUP is its community. We learn from one another, sharing how we’ve achieved success and, maybe more importantly, what we’ve learned from failure. SCUP authors, produces, and curates thousands of resources to help you prepare for the future, overcome challenges, and bring planning together at your college or university.

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Webinar Recordings

Published
June 3, 2020

Pivot Complete. Now What?

Planning Through the Pandemic to a Sustainable Future

Higher education has become accustomed to a volatile environment. Volatile environments create significant degrees of ambiguity, complexity, and uncertainty. How do institutions navigate through this volatile environment? Scenario planning.
Abstract: Scenario planning generates multiple well-crafted contradictory narratives about the future to anticipate possible outcomes of environmental forces with the potential to impact an institution. It is important to note that scenario planning does not seek to predict an uncertain future. Instead, engaging in scenario planning provides an institution with the capacity to plan for potential outcomes that may interrupt institutional progress.

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Planning for Higher Education Journal

Published
May 20, 2020

‘Smart Change’ for Turbulent Times

Planning for Survival Requires Speed, Flexibility, and Committed Leadership

Higher education faces a very real threat today. In confronting the fallout from COVID-19, colleges and universities are pushed toward making a transformative change. What will that require? A commitment to adaptation, innovation, change management, meeting the most critical student needs, and leaders who stand up to the challenges.

From Volume 48 Number 3 | April–June 2020

Abstract: “Smart change” requires an understanding of when and how to employ routine, strategic, and transformative change. Amid COVID-19, we face an existential threat that demands institutions reimagine higher education as more inclusive, affordable, relevant, and successful. To do so, planners/leaders must emphasize the well-being and success of student/faculty/staff; develop scenarios for sustainable business models; design, develop, deliver, and train instructors to teach across and with all modalities; build collaborative networks within and across institutions; and connect with local, state, and regional businesses and industry.

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Webinar Recordings

Published
April 24, 2020

Coffee Chat: Scenario Planning

Jim Downey, VP for planning and institutional effectiveness at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Chris McCord, acting executive VP and provost, Northern Illinois University, moderated this Coffee Chat on Scenario Planning.
Abstract: Jim Downey, VP for planning and institutional effectiveness at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Chris McCord, acting executive VP and provost, Northern Illinois University, moderated this Coffee Chat on Scenario Planning.

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Planning for Higher Education Journal

Published
October 1, 2009

University Strategic Planning and the Foresight/Futures Approach

An Irish Case Study

Dublin City University has taken the lead in Ireland in terms of its emphasis on strategic planning. Its 2005–2008 strategic plan, Leadership Through Foresight, was part of an ambitious foresight exercise that was aimed at informing subsequent strategic cycles. This article reports on this process in the context of the wider literature examining the value of foresight/futures thinking as applied to universities.

From Volume 38 Number 1 | October–December 2009

Abstract: The contemporary university operates within a global context characterized by ever-increasing uncertainty and complexity. Strategic planning must, therefore, be cognizant of future trends and how those trends will affect the university by creating both threats and opportunities. Our hypothesis is that an approach we refer to as “strategic foresight” can provide us with the tools, methodology, and process to creatively address uncertainty and complexity in our working environment. Dublin City University has taken the lead in Ireland in terms of its emphasis on strategic planning. Its 2005–2008 strategic plan, Leadership Through Foresight, was part of an ambitious foresight exercise that was aimed at informing subsequent strategic cycles. This article reports on this process in the context of the wider literature examining the value of foresight/futures thinking as applied to universities. The article commences with a review of current uncertainties and complexities in the current operating environment. It broadly outlines foresight/futures thinking and then examines universities specifically. It continues by focusing on Dublin City University’s foresight exercise as an example of how foresight operates in practice. Finally, the article concludes by exploring what a strategic foresight approach to planning might look like based on that experience.

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Planning for Higher Education Journal

Published
September 1, 2004

Using Scenarios and Simulations to Plan Colleges

Higher education institutions can benefit from constructing and using multiple future scenarios and simulations during strategic planning. One method of scenario planning to create visions of potential futures is presented, with a case study from the College of the Desert.

From Volume 33 Number 1 | September–November 2004

Abstract: Using a case study, this article describes a method by which higher education institutions construct and use multiple future scenarios and simulations to plan strategically: to create visions of their futures, chart broad directions (mission and goals), and select learning and delivery strategies so as to achieve those broad directions. The four scenarios described in this article are written by combining two assumed “external” sets of future trends and conditions with two “internal” sets of institutional policies. Simulation of future college enrollment under each scenario enables planners not only to mitigate uncertainty and explore implications of different numbers of students but also to analyze the characteristics of these students to design educational content and delivery that is learning centered and, therefore, likely to be effective. The simulations also frame fiscal issues for a broad range of future conditions, thereby alerting planners to long-range strategies and options such as distance learning, partnering, and differential pricing, among others, that might not otherwise have been pursued.

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Planning for Higher Education Journal

Published
December 1, 1989

Developing Scenarios: Linking Environmental Scanning and Strategic Planning

In this article, we discuss a method for developing and writing scenarios for a college or university. We begin by reviewing the general literature on scenarios; we then detail a scenario development project at Arizona State University. This project, conducted in 1988–89, was Arizona State University's first institution-wide, futures-based planning and scenario development effort.

From Volume 18 Number 4 | 1989–1990

Abstract: In this article, we discuss a method for developing and writing scenarios for a college or university. We begin by reviewing the general literature on scenarios; we then detail a scenario development project at Arizona State University. This project, conducted in 1988–89, was Arizona State University's first institution-wide, futures-based planning and scenario development effort. The focus of the project for Arizona State University was planning and programming for affirmative action. An outside consultant facilitated the group-process portion of the project and instructed university staff in scenario development. Staff in the university's Office of Institutional Analysis then developed and wrote a set of three scenarios to guide the university's affirmative action programming and planning during the decade of the nineties.

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