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Transforming Understandings of Diversity in Higher Education: Demography, Democracy, & Discourse (Hardback)
  • Transforming Understandings of Diversity in Higher Education: Demography, Democracy, & Discourse (Hardback)

Transforming Understandings of Diversity in Higher Education: Demography, Democracy, & Discourse (Hardback)

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Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 30/09/2016
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This exciting new text examines one of the most important and yet elusive terms in higher education and society: What do we mean when we talk in a serious way about "diversity"?

A distinguished group of diversity scholars explore the latest discourse on diversity and how it is reflected in research and practice. The chapters trace how the discourse on diversity is newly shaped after many of the 20th century concepts of race, ethnicity, gender and class have lost authority. In the academic disciplines and in public discourse, perspectives about diversity have been rapidly shifting in recent years. This is especially true in the United States where demographic changes and political attitudes have prompted new observations-some which will clash with traditional frameworks.

This text brings together 10 scholars whose research has opened up new ways to understand the complexities of diversity in higher education. Because the essential topic under consideration is changing so quickly, the editors of this volume also have asked the contributors to reflect on the paths their own scholarship has taken in their careers, and to see how they would relate their current conceptualization of diversity to one or more of three identified themes (demography, democracy and discourse). Each chapter ends with a candid graduate student interview of the author that provides an engaged picture of how the authors wrestle with one of the most complicated topics shaping them (and all of us) as individuals and as scholars. Of interest to anyone who is following the debates about diversity issues on our campuses, the book also offers a wonderful introduction to graduate students entering a discipline where critically important ideas are still very much alive for discussion.

The contributing scholars are: Uma M. Jayakumar, University of San Francisco, Jarrett T. Gupton, University of Minnesota, Michael R. Woodford, Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. Angela M. Locks, California State University, Long Beach, Michelle Samura, Chapman University, Allison Lombardi, University of Connecticut, Jerlando F. L. Jackson, University of Wisconsin, Tamara Nichele Stevenson, Westminster College, Dr. Courtney Carter, Mississippi State University..

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
ISBN: 9781620363751
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 726 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm

"The timing of [this book] is prescient. A divisive presidential election and a polarizing outcome have forced us to reflect on our shared values as a nation. Specifically, how do we value diversity in a country that is divided? Many people in higher education feel a pressing need to reinvigorate the discourse on diversity, particularly as it pertains to our college and university campuses today. This volume seeks to meet the current challenge and is committed to future possibilities of greater insight, justice, and opportunity in higher education.

If we seek to transform our present understandings of diversity as the title of the text asserts, we must first acknowledge where we are positioned during the current moment. Have we achieved the diversity we desire across higher education? What remains to be accomplished? Do we risk losing ground in the coming years? In some ways, American colleges and universities have made significant strides in promoting a more diverse student body. However, these successes at diversifying educational opportunity are at risk.

We find ourselves at a political, legal, and intellectual crossroads regarding diversity in higher education. The authors believe that it remains unclear what the term diversity actually means, who it includes, and how it encompasses them as students. This intellectual honesty from diversity scholars is refreshing in today's climate of angry political rhetoric and sharp divisions.

As such, Transforming Understandings of Diversity in Higher Education effectively contextualizes the problem of diversity. It demonstrates that the term has come to be viewed as an objective of, or even an agenda in, higher education today. Court rulings have been central to shaping how universities engage with diversity as part of a fluid discourse on this topic. Supreme Court decisions in Regents of the University of California v. Baake (1978), Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), Gratz v. Bollinger (2003), and Fisher v. University of Texas (2013, 2016) recognize diversity as beneficial to student learning. They also state that diversity is important in fulfilling the educational mission of the modern multiversity. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court has narrowed how race and ethnicity could be considered in college admissions decisions.

Prior to the burgeoning and important work of critical race theorists, scholars like Kimberle Crenshaw were critical of the legal discourse on diversity. In her seminal article "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics" (1989), she persuasively articulates how the courts have often obscured the multidimensionality or intersectionality of people's lived experiences. Relative to several court rulings, Crenshaw finds that the courts fail to recognize more nuanced understandings of discrimination, particularly when cases involve compound or double discrimination. As she aptly noted regarding discrimination several decades ago, the same might be said about diversity discourse in higher education today. In short, we need to re-center this critical discourse at these intersections.

Transforming Understandings of Diversity in Higher Education attempts to contribute to this process and make the discourse more nuanced

The book encourages young scholars and student affairs professionals to contribute to our developing understandings of diversity. These emerging diversity scholars and practitioners, accompanied by several veteran trailblazers, are our best hope at envisioning a brighter future and transforming higher education for the twenty-first-century."-- (03/24/2017)

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