‘Marist Mindset’: 10 key issues shaping students’ worldview

Race relations, conflicts between and privacy and technology, and fashion in the era of PPE top annual list
By: | September 9, 2020
"Marist Mindset" details key issues to guide learning, creativity and personal growth for first-year students."Marist Mindset" details key issues to guide learning, creativity and personal growth for first-year students.

Race relations, conflicts between and privacy and technology, and fashion in the era of personal protective equipment (PPE) top this year’s “Marist Mindset,” an annual list that aims to capture the worldview of first-year students.

Members of the class of 2024, born just after the 9/11 attacks, face an unprecedented start to college in the era of remote learning, social distancing and new pushes for social justice, says Tommy Zurhellen, an associate professor of English at the upstate New York college who oversaw the list’s creation.

The list is a “cultural compass that examines broad areas that can be explored and discussed in meaningful ways,” Zurhellen says.

“This group of students, in particular, is living through extraordinary circumstances that deserve examination,” he says. “Generation Z is poised to be a political and cultural force.”


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The list, meant to guide continuing campus discussions, covers 10 major areas: arts, commerce, education, ethics, fashion, history and politics, language and literacy, science, sports communication, and technology.

Here are 10 key components that shape the Marist Mindset:

  1. ArtsArtists and designers in the class of 2024 will explore race relations beyond Black Lives Matter to develop a deeper understanding of how whiteness has shaped bias in contemporary American culture.
  2. CommerceIncoming students will rely on smart devices for shopping, wellness-centered experiences, and engaging in social good.
  3. EducationStudents may view the idea of “banned books” as an artifact from the past, but the Harry Potter series has been banned somewhere in America for their entire lifetimes, and To Kill a Mockingbird has appeared on the American Library Association (ALA) list of frequently challenged books eight times since 2004, due to perceived concerns over offensive language as well as racial and sexual themes.
  4. EthicsIncoming students are willing to pay for their privacy and value privacy for their real relationships.
  5. FashionThe necessity of personal protection equipment (PPE) will drive fashion trends for the next couple of seasons as young designers design face masks and other PPE that function as objects of personal expression.
  6. History and politicsFor first-year students, the world political stage has always been post-9/11: Vladimir Putin has always been the leader of Russia, Tayyip Erdogan has always been leader of Turkey, and the U.S. military has always been involved in Afghanistan.
  7. Language and literacy: The class of 2024 and, their teachers embrace a richer diversity of voices in the books they read, and their enthusiasm for young adult (YA) literature has led to the emergence of vibrant new voices. These students are also shaping American literary culture like never before—by contributing commentary and adaptations in online forums such as GoodReads, Reddit, Twitter, and fanfic sites.
  8. ScienceStudents are keenly aware of the major threats to the health of our society created by the COVID pandemic and climate change at a time when the value of science is increasingly questioned in the national dialogue.
  9. Sports communicationSocial distancing provided a captive audience for the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.” This phenomenon allowed the Class of 2024 to see for themselves the evolution of the NBA game in the last 20 years, sparking new debate over how past heroes such as Michael Jordan compare to their favorite players of today like LeBron and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
  10. TechIncoming students have never been more ready to embrace social distance by using technology to fill the distance gap, and are always looking for the newest upgrade.
Pablo Rivas (left), an assistant professor of computer science, and Joyce Yu-Jean Lee (center), an assistant professor of art and digital media, and assisted Tommy Zurhellen (right), an associate professor of English, in developing the Marist Mindset.

Pablo Rivas (left), an assistant professor of computer science, and Joyce Yu-Jean Lee (center), an assistant professor of art and digital media, and assisted Tommy Zurhellen (right), an associate professor of English, in developing the Marist Mindset.


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