College of the Redwoods


Cal Poly Humboldt

College Matters | CR committed to being part of the solution

This article was originally posted in the College Matters column of the Times-Standard.

Thursday, May 2, 2024 - 12:30pm

Like many of you, I am comfortable when life progresses smoothly and predictably. I remember a time when our biggest concern was falling into a routine and becoming stagnant. Then the pandemic hit, and our world turned upside down. We saw the death of millions of people worldwide and lived through a global lockdown. Now, the threat of another economic downturn, global warming, divisive political rhetoric, a growing mental health crisis, the humanitarian crises brought on by the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas, not to mention the recent surge of protests on our college and university campuses, all add to a growing sense of chaos.

When I think of the instability of our times and the feeling of unrest and volatility, I tell myself that these are not uncommon in our world. History reminds us that periods of uncertainty often pave the way for cultural and political change and new realities. I also remind myself of how important higher education is in our ability to mitigate threats. It promotes actions and strategies that can help knit the world back together. Higher education fosters societal cohesion and reconciliation through cooperation, support for human rights, and the freedom of thought and expression that encourages dialogue.

It is my opinion that we are fortunate to have two higher education institutions in our area, College of the Redwoods and Cal Poly Humboldt, that prioritize teaching students to approach issues critically, to carefully evaluate information and sources of information, to engage in respectful dialogue, and to examine the historical and sociopolitical context in which those issues unfold. We work hard to give our students the tools they need to tackle the complex problems we see in our society and our world.

Adding to the chaos and uncertainty, as a California community college, CR continues to face unprecedented challenges — the dramatic rise of for-profit institutions, rapidly increasing expectations about what wraparound services we should provide, the need to provide college graduates with even more job skills and capacities, and the tightening state budget, which may further strain our resources. Recognizing the need for adaptation and innovation, our incredible faculty and administrators created CR’s unique and innovative 2022-32 Education Master Plan. This plan reflects our acknowledgment of the need to change while maintaining our core purpose of helping students better understand the world and inspiring them to leave it better than they found it. College of the Redwoods’ Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and administration embrace this vision wholeheartedly.

As Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” So, what does it take to level up our thinking? To circle back to my earlier premise, higher education is the key to solving our seemingly intractable problems. I am very proud that our faculty encourages students to consciously cultivate the capacity to see more — to deepen, widen, and lengthen their perspectives and I am proud to be a part of an institution that is fully committed to encouraging students to be part of the solution.

Dr. Keith Flamer is the president of the College of the Redwoods.