As discussions about COVID-19 have multiplied, one persistent theme has been a mistrust of experts. Whether it’s a personality on cable news or in a friend’s Facebook feed, the question crops up: do experts really know what they are talking about?
Dr. Marylouise Fennell, RSM, from our team was recently featured in eCampus News discussing this topic and the implications for higher ed. Dr. Fennell writes, “Proper methodology, scientific inquiry, and rigorous evaluation are foundational to education. In an age where those are not valued, there are inevitable problems for the higher education sector.” She goes on to list suggestions of how college leaders can constructively respond. One suggestion: manner matters as much as message. Fennell writes, “Thoughtful, researched policies or positions can fall flat when they are not rolled out in a clear and considerate way. The how matters just as much as the what. When implementing COVID policies on your campus, the manner of your communication dictates how the policies are received. Communicate often. Be transparent about your methodology and reasoning. Show your regard for your constituents by involving them in the process. Strike a tone of respect and empathy, even as you are firm about the parameters that the leadership team has decided on.”