In the spring 2020 issue of To Improve the Academy, we published an invited essay by Randall Bass, Vice President for Strategic Education Initiatives at Georgetown University, titled “What’s the Problem Now?” that was a reflection and response to his 1999 essay, “The Scholarship of Teaching: What’s the Problem?” Our hope was that the compelling questions Bass raised from this 21-year perspective, which was book-ended by a global pandemic and heightened racial, political, social, and environmental crises, would lead to critical examination and new perspectives from the broader community of educational developers and scholars of teaching and learning.

We invited authors to consider a range of themes and questions raised by Bass’s 2020 essay, for example:

  • What are the qualities of the “now” that make taking teaching and learning seriously an urgent, if not a moral, imperative that can foster a more equitable future?

  • What does it mean to turn the current crises and challenges of higher education into a set of “problems” to be investigated?

  • What emergent tools and strategies do educational developers have at their disposal now that help reshape their role in the changing higher education ecosystem?

Given all that has happened since Bass published his 2020 essay, we asked him to provide a coda, to acknowledge the moment and situate his and our authors’ contributions squarely in it. We trust that his essay in this issue, combined with our authors’ contributions, will offer the hope and renewed willingness to take the necessary risks Bass claims are needed “for helping higher education navigate a wicked future.”

Lindsay Bernhagen

Former Editor-in-chief

Michael S. Palmer

Lindsay Wheeler



Bass R. (1999). The scholarship of teaching: What’s the problem?” Inventio, 1(1).

Bass R. (2020). What’s the problem now? To Improve the Academy, 39(1).