Environmental Scan

Organizations engage in environmental scanning to identify and enumerate emerging challenges. Here you will find information related to nearly every aspect of the university, designed to help leaders and decision-makers better understand trends that may affect their planning. The data assembled here do not prescribe any particular action, or suggest the University at Buffalo endorses a single point of view on the issues highlighted in the environmental scan.

Constructing the Environmental Scan

The UB Environmental Scan consists of content collected and curated from dozens of sources. In most cases, this content comes from national associations and higher education research groups with a record of producing quality publications. In some cases, public sources of information from prominent publications, like The New York Times or The Washington Post, are cited. In every case, articles and web content have been reviewed for their record of accuracy and timeliness in regard to a particular issue.

Using the Environmental Scan

The information gathered in the environmental scan points to the future, illuminating issues of strategic importance to your unit and to the university. As you review the content in the following pages, consider the impact it may have on your area of responsibility. The scan is divided into six areas of emphasis: political, economic, ecological, technological, social and sector. Information relevant to your particular planning strategy may be found in more than one category, and you may find germane content throughout the scan.  

Scan for the University at Buffalo

In alignment with industry best practices1,2, the following issues are likely to have a significant impact on university operations:

Changes in political leadership, public opinion and/or regulatory environments and practices 

Changes in the economy, industry, work force, income inequalities and gaps, and philanthropic activity

Changes in the physical and/or biological environment that may have a significant impact on university operations

Changes in information technology, hardware, software, processes, systems, data transmission and stewardship

Changes in norms, behavioral patterns, attitudes, education access, health and wellness conditions, and demographics

Changes in the higher education sector, partner organizations, marketplace competition and resource availability