Session 1 D

Tetris vs. Minecraft: Reimagining the Ombuds Role in "New Power" Dynamics

Time: Monday 11:00 AM – 12:10 PM

Presenter(s): Shannon Lynn Burton, Ombuds, Michigan State University  Learn more about this presenter by visiting the presenter page.

Level: Established


In their recent book, New Power: How Anyone Can Persuade, Mobilize, and Succeed in our Chaotic Connected Age, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms describe “new power” as open, participatory, often leaderless and peer-driven. This is opposed to “old power”, which is often leader-driven, inaccessible, and closed. This new power has emerged from the increase in technology and communication. As visitors have gained access to other means to address their concerns through social media and increased access to information, how has this impacted the work of ombuds given their historical positioning as assisting groups with no voice, as the space to provide information, as well as the space to understand the organization? Given the structure of ombuds offices as independent and having access to all levels of the organization, ombuds, in some ways, have always had “new power”. Now that visitors potentially have access to new power, what does that mean for the ombuds role? How are ombuds understanding these new power structures and their impact on their offices and organizations? How might we retool the ombuds role within this new landscape?

Learning Objectives

  1. Gain understanding of shifting power dynamics.
  2. Engage in discussion about the future of ombuds work.
  3. Assess power dynamics within their organizations and how they may be shifting. 
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