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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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Part Six: What Has Higher Education Done About Inclusion and Social Justice?

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← 158 | 159 →

Part Six:  What Has Higher Education Done About Inclusion and Social Justice?

In “Tokenizing Social Justice in Higher Education,” Cristobal Salinas Jr. and Valerie A. Guerrero trace the evolution of the term “social justice” and contend that it is now used as a mere buzzword—without any real meaning amid countless pages of discourse and policy on diversity and inclusion. Salinas and Guerrero further argue that negative neoliberal undertones and stereotypical mocking of “social justice warriors” have stifled opportunities for genuine dialogue and sustainable change. To truly engage students, the authors suggest the need for a fuller understanding of oppression, privilege, and the internalization of beliefs. They proffer a new concept of “multicontextual thinking” for today’s colleges and universities.

In “Creating Inclusive Classrooms as an Imperative for Historically Underrepresented Groups in Higher Education,” Michael Sean Funk first reflects on his own initial learnings about social justice and inclusion. He tracks historical trends in student activism, ending with the current examples of #BlackLivesMatter and other student rights movements. Funk recommends some strategies for establishing inclusive dialogue in the college classroom. He contends that higher education acts as a mirror reflective of our larger world and that we must not live in a vacuum, but instead confront the serious issues of the day in our wider society as well as postsecondary education. ← 159 | 160 →

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