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Conducting an Environmental Scan

Conducting an Environmental Scan

Environmental scanning is the ongoing tracking of trends and occurrences in an organization’s internal and external environment that bear on its success, currently and in the future. The results are extremely useful in shaping goals and strategies.

Effective environmental scanning examines both quantitative and qualitative changes. Ultimately, you should create a set of key environmental indicators—internal, external, qualitative and quantitative—that you believe have the most important potential impact on the work you do.

Consider Internal and External Factors

These indicators may include internal issues and trends that are inherent to the institution, such as budget issues, enrollment fluctuations, fundraising opportunities, and changes in leadership.

They may also include external factors in the environment outside of the institution that our out of our control such as:

  • Demographics – locally, regionally, nationally, and increasingly internationally (e.g., population, racial/ethnic mix, immigration status, education levels, etc.)
  • Politics and public policy – changes in governmental regulation, federal financial aid policies, and public attitudes toward institutions of higher education
  • Economies – local, regional, national and international
  • Labor market – the demand in relevant fields and the associated skills desired by employers
  • Academic interests – popular fields and the employment interests of prospective students and their families
  • Technology – the increasingly rapid changes in which bear on nearly every aspect of higher education
  • Research – changes in interests and funding from governmental, private and foundation sources
  • Philanthropy – changes in available funding and in the attitudes, interests, and approaches of donors

Local units can also take advantage of information in environmental scans of the institution and other reports developed by Institutional Research.

You can also reference the Fordham Fact Book.