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Loving Your Field Enough to Set Limits

As institutional needs have increased and grown in complexity, our time as higher ed professionals has become less and less our own, write Wily Carpenter.

The B word is an important but surprisingly controversial topic in higher education. Some organizations refuse to use the word at all. Other institutions and leaders highlight its undeniable significance. And the stresses of work-life balance and the blurring of lines between being on the clock and being at home in a professional world forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic have only intensified the conversation.

What is this word that incites so much debate? Be warned-we’re going to say it in its full form. Boundaries.

Regardless of how you feel about boundaries, we’re almost certain that you have some thoughts and opinions. Is it so bad to be asked to consider them?

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Many higher education leaders and professionals seem to think so. But why? Why is it so taboo for higher education professionals to communicate their needs? In this first of two articles about placing boundaries, we will cover what boundaries are, how they are generally approached in higher education, how we’ve gotten to this point and where we need to go.

What are boundaries, anyway? Generally speaking, they are the limits we place in social and professional interactions to ensure that other people don’t violate or jeopardize our own values. Boundaries are our way of communicating how we expect to be treated and defining what actions we will and won’t accept from others. Well-communicated boundaries serve as a sort of instruction manual for interpersonal interaction and help us form stronger, deeper connections with the many different people around us. Continue reading Loving Your Field Enough to Set Limits