INTERGENERATIONAL ISSUES IN HIGHER EDUCATION: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
, P. Gabor2
1University of Calgary, Lethbridge College (CANADA)
2University of Calgary (CANADA)
Higher education settings are among the most diverse organizations. An important diversity in higher education is age; people from eighteen to eighty (and beyond) live, work and study on campuses. In other words on any campus, there may be students, faculty and staff who were born as early as the 1920’s, as late as 1997-98 and every year in between.
People born in different eras within this period are often described by their generational labels in the following groupings: The Silent Generation (1923-44), Baby Boomers (1945-64), Generation X (1962-81), Millenials (1975-95) and Generation Z (1997 on). People’s views, perceptions, language, culture, orientation to work and education, among other traits, are in part shaped by the generation within which they were born. These generational characteristics, while not set in stone, do influence people’s interactions, relationships, expectations and behaviors within the higher education institution.
It is not enough to just bring groups of people together and hope for the best. While cross-generational interaction can be source of richness, many misunderstandings, conflicts and barriers to effective teaching, learning and working relationships on campus can be attributed to generational differences. These problems can occur within the professoriate, among students or between professors and students.
A critical challenge for educators is to facilitate effective and harmonious interactions among people of different generations. This presentation will describe some generational characteristics of the following main groups who compose the campus community today: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials. It will explore issues of communication across the generations and how these effect educational and supervisory relationships on campus. Strategies for facilitating effective, harmonious and productive interactions will also be discussed.