Happy New Year higher ed friends! Hope everyone returned to work refreshed, renewed and ready for an exciting year ahead. According to Education Dive, this will be the year that competency-based education and predictive analytics really heat up. But there are so many other things in store for higher education and PR this year—and we can’t wait to experience it all.

Other things you need to know for 2016: kale is out, seaweed is in, Pantone has two colors of the year, the man bun will be replaced by the man braid and your smartphone will be able to do pretty much anything.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, a quick look back at 2015 by the staff at The Conversation showed that faculty from the Farmer School of Business wrote some of the most popular pieces on their site. Among the top six most read education stories of the year was a story about a popular brewery course, which also ran in Fortune. And articles on Elon Musk and Tesla (also appeared in TIME) and the Volkswagen scandal (also appeared in Fortune) came in at number five and 10 respectively for the top read business stories. Congratulations to professors Rhett Brymer and Rocky Newman, who authored these pieces.

And now back to 2016. Below, see how the beginning of the year is shaping up for us:

What’s new this week:
Grinnell College professor David Cook-Martin wrote a piece for The Conversation about the realities of Mexican immigration in the U.S. The story was picked up by U.S. News & World Report, New Republic and Raw Story.

Grinnell’s Dan Sinykin also focused on politics this week. He published a piece on Salon.com based on his experiences attending a series of Republican candidate campaign events in Iowa.

Longwood University was one of only three institutions highlighted by The Chronicle of Higher Education after a call for video submissions of the best campus traditions in the country. Check out their Color Wars video.

On Inside Higher Ed’s Call to Action blog this week, Megan Brenn-White reminded us of the ways in which international students view marketing materials and provided tips for making messages resonate with audiences both domestically and abroad.

What we’ve been talking about:
On our blog, Bobby Mathews writes about the importance of asking questions, especially in new situations.

Conference season has begun. Where to find us this weekend:
Teresa Valerio Parrot is speaking tomorrow at the Association of American Law Schools’ 110th annual meeting in New York City. Sunday, she will lead media training for ACE Fellows (for the eighth time) in Miami. If you’ll be at either place, be sure to say “hi.”

What we’ve been reading:

Erin Hennessy
Over the break, I saw “Spotlight,” the film about Boston Globe reporters who uncovered abuse of children by Catholic priests and the subsequent coverup of that abuse by the church hierarchy. It was a phenomenal movie that reaffirmed my belief in the importance of journalism in holding institutions up for scrutiny, so I was pretty primed to be drawn into these two stories from the world of media: First, sticking with the Globe for a minute, there’s been a ton of coverage of the delivery woes the paper has seen over the past few weeks, culminating in reporters taking to the streets last week to deliver the paper themselves. Some have speculated that was a PR move, but I prefer to believe it’s a case of reporters doing whatever they have to in order to ensure the news gets out.

The second story that has captured my attention as it continues to unfold is that of the purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal by casino mogul and mega political donor Sheldon Adelson. The story keeps going from bad (attempting to hide the identity of the new owners via a shell company) to worse (assigning reporters to investigate judges who are hearing cases in which Adelson’s business interests are involved) to are-you-kidding-me (outside editors suggesting to Review-Journal reporters that they lay off covering the issues around the new owners). On the Media had a great podcast recapping the story to date if you want to catch up. And this Storify of a recent newsroom meeting is worth a read if you want to have your mind boggled.

Teresa Valerio Parrot
My contribution isn’t new, but it is new to me. My daughter and I were introduced to the Mystery Show podcast in late December and we fell in love. Starlee Kine does such an amazing job of spinning a tale with just the perfect balance of humor and intrigue. Vanity Fair printed a review of the show almost six months ago and captured the spirit of Mystery Show and Starlee quite well. And no Mystery Show reference would be complete without a picture of the belt buckle or a link to this Conan O’Brien appearance. Both will sound strange until you listen— and once you do, send me a tweet and we can discuss “To Feel Stuff.”

Bobby Mathews
The Second Amendment—what it means, and how it applies to individual rights—has been hotly debated for years. It’s good to remember, though, that for most of America’s history, gun rights meant a different thing than many believe today. This POLITICO post reveals a lot about the Second Amendment—why it was included in the Amendments, and what its intention was supposed to be. Coupled with President Obama’s current push on gun control, it’s a fascinating read.

Kyle Gunnels
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so that means the New York Public Library just made more than 187 million “words worth” of photos part of the public domain. Broken down by categories in a pretty awesome visualization tool, you can search through what feels like an endless amount of photos, documents and illustrations. I love history, so this is going to be an amazing thing to look through!

Kristine Maloney
The New York TimesKJ Dell’Antonia said it right in her column this week, “Re-entry is not easy.” Like her family, mine was not quite ready to get back into work, school and other activities after the holidays. The unscheduled time to linger over breakfast, make spontaneous decisions about what to do on a particular day, and just slow life down was much needed and much enjoyed. In fact I had many of the same thoughts during this last break that Dell’Antonia articulated so well in this piece, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to it. The biggest takeaway: “…our children need to have that open-ended, what-do-you-want-to-do-today feeling more often. That is the lesson of a good winter break for me.” For me, too!

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