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Class and Campus Life

Managing and Experiencing Inequality at an Elite College

by Elizabeth M. Lee

In 2015, the New York Times reported, "The bright children of janitors and nail salon workers, bus drivers and fast-food cooks may not have grown up with the edifying vacations, museum excursions, daily doses of NPR and prep schools that groom Ivy applicants, but they are coveted candidates for elite campuses." What happens to academically talented but economically challenged "first-gen" students when they arrive on campus? Class markers aren't always visible from a distance, but socioeconomic differences permeate campus life—and the inner experiences of students—in real and sometimes unexpected ways. In Class and Campus Life, Elizabeth M. Lee shows how class differences are enacted and negotiated by students, faculty, and administrators at an elite liberal arts college for women located in the Northeast.

Using material from two years of fieldwork and more than 140 interviews with students, faculty, administrators, and alumnae at the pseudonymous Linden College, Lee adds depth to our understanding of inequality in higher education. An essential part of her analysis is to illuminate the ways in which the students' and the college’s practices interact, rather than evaluating them separately, as seemingly unrelated spheres. She also analyzes underlying moral judgments brought to light through cultural connotations of merit, hard work by individuals, and making it on your own that permeate American higher education. Using students’ own descriptions and understandings of their experiences to illustrate the complexity of these issues, Lee shows how the lived experience of socioeconomic difference is often defined in moral, as well as economic, terms, and that tensions, often unspoken, undermine students’ senses of belonging.

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Class Degrees

Smart Work, Managed Choice, and the Transformation of Higher Education

Evan Watkins

A current truism holds that the undergraduate degree today is equivalent to the high-school diploma of yesterday. But undergraduates at a research university would probably not recognize themselves in the historical mirror of high-school vocational education. Students in a vast range of institutions are encouraged to look up the educational social scale, whereas earlier vocational education was designed to cool outexpectations of social advancement by training a working class prepared for massive industrialization.In Class Degrees, Evan Watkins argues that reforms in vocational education in the 1980s and 1990s can explain a great deal about the changing directions of class formation in the United States, as well as how postsecondary educational institutions are changing. Responding to a demand for flexibility in job skills and reflecting a consequent aspiration to choice and perpetual job mobility, those reforms aimed to eliminate the separate academic status of vocational education. They transformed it from a cooling outto a heating upof class expectations. The result has been a culture of hyperindividualism. The hyperindividual lives in a world permeated with against-all-odds plots, from beat the oddsof long supermarket checkout lines by using self-checkout and buying FasTrak transponders to beat the odds of traffic jams, to the endless superheroes on film and TV who daily save various sorts of planets and things against all odds.Of course, a few people can beat the odds only if most other people do not. As choice begins to replace the selling of individual labor at the core of contemporary class formation, the result is a sort of waste labor left behind by the competitive process. Provocatively, Watkins argues that, in the twenty-first century, academic work in the humanities is assuming the management function of reclaiming this waste labor as a motor force for the future.

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Classroom Commentaries

Teaching the Poetria nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe

With an unusually broad scope encompassing how Europeans taught and learned reading and writing at all levels, Classroom Commentaries: Teaching the Poetria nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe provides a synoptic picture of medieval and early modern instruction in rhetoric, poetics, and composition theory and practice. As Marjorie Curry Woods convincingly argues, the decision of Geoffrey of Vinsauf (fl. 1200) to write his rhetorical treatise in verse resulted in a unique combination of rhetorical doctrine, poetic examples, and creative exercises that proved malleable enough to inspire teachers for three centuries. Based on decades of research, this book excerpts, translates, and analyzes teachers’ notes and commentaries in the more than two hundred extant manuscripts of the text. We learn the reasons for the popularity of the Poetria nova among medieval and early Renaissance teachers, how prose as well as verse genres were taught, why the Poetria nova was a required text in central European universities, its attractions for early modern scholars and historians, and how we might still learn from it today. Woods’s monumental achievement will allow modern scholars to see the Poetria nova as earlier Europeans did: a witty and perennially popular text central to the experience of almost every student.

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Closed Minds?

Politics and Ideology in American Universities

Bruce L.R. Smith, Jeremy D. Mayer, and A. Lee Fritschler

Contrary to popular belief, the problem with U.S. higher education is not too much politics but too little. Far from being bastions of liberal bias, American universities have largely withdrawn from the world of politics. So conclude Bruce L. R. Smith, Jeremy Mayer, and Lee Fritschler in this illuminating book. C losed Minds? d draws on data from interviews, focus groups, and a new national survey by the authors, as well as their decades of experience in higher education to paint the most comprehensive picture to date of campus political attitudes. It finds that while liberals outnumber conservatives within faculty ranks, even most conservatives believe that ideology has little impact on hiring and promotion. Today's students are somewhat more conservative than their professors, but few complain of political bias in the classroom. Similarly, a Pennsylvania legislative inquiry, which the authors explore as a case study of conservative activism in higher education, found that political bias was "rare" in the state's public colleges and universities. Yet this ideological peace on campus has been purchased at a high price. American universities are rarely hospitable to lively discussions of issues of public importance. They largely shun serious political debate, all but ignore what used to be called civics, and take little interest in educating students to be effective citizens. Smith, Mayer, and Fritschler contrast the current climate of disengagement with the original civic mission of American colleges and universities. In concluding, they suggest how universities can reclaim and strengthen their place in the nation's political and civic life.

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Collective Autonomy

A History of the Council of Ontario Universities, 1962-2000

Chronicles the rise and decline of Ontario universities from the halcyon 1960s to the Common Sense Revolution through the history of its planning association, the Council of Ontario Universities.

Collective Autonomy: A History of the Council of Ontario Universities, 1962-2000 is the first full-length account of an organization that has played a major role in the development of the university system in Ontario. Edward J. Monahan served as the council’s chief executive officer for over fifteen years. This is his insider’s account, enhanced by archival material, of the key role the universities played in planning the high academic quality of the Ontario provincial university system.

Collective Autonomy traces the evolution of Ontario universities over a period of forty years, from the halcyon days of the 1960s, during which massive injections of public funds transformed these institutions from ivory towers to public utilities, through the 1970s and ’80s when universities were downgraded as a government spending priority and problems began to develop. It concludes by looking at the problems created by the “Common Sense Revolution” and the resulting severe cutbacks in government grants to universities. It chronicles the efforts of the universities to preserve their autonomy while expanding their service to the common good, and their efforts to maintain the delicate balance between university autonomy and public accountability.

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College Knowledge for the Jewish Student

101 Tips

David Schoem

"Students and parents alike will benefit from reading David Schoem's well-written, lively, and documented guide." ---Elie Wiesel “This is a wonderful sequel to Schoem’s very successful College Knowledge: 101 Tips. As I read through this new volume, I was constantly struck that the advice offered would help all students who approach the college experience with distinctive cultural backgrounds and commitments. Indeed all prospective college students, and their parents, can benefit from this serious yet delightful, well-written and incisive book of advice. I intend to buy one for each of my grandchildren.” ---Harold Shapiro, former president, Princeton University; former president, University of Michigan For the individual Jewish student who enters college, it is critical that he or she come intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually prepared for the academic and social experience that awaits. College is a qualitatively different experience than high school, and students’ expectations need to be set appropriately. The transition from high school to college is so significant that it can be difficult for most without some preparation. College Knowledge for the Jewish Student: 101 Tips is the perfect guide for students heading off to college with high expectations for learning, academic success, personal growth, and independence. Through lively tips and compelling student stories about life at college, it offers thoughtful, practical information for every Jewish student who wants to make a successful transition. College Knowledge for the Jewish Student includes tips on the academic aspects of college life, like communicating with faculty, learning what is where on campus, where to go for help with coursework, how to manage one’s time for a balanced experience, etc. In addition, it offers advice on dealing with family, finances, health, and safety, as well as the many social and emotional aspects of this important rite of passage.

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College Student Affairs Journal

Vol. 33 (2015) through current issue

The College Student Affairs Journal publishes articles related to research, concepts, and practices that have implications for both practitioners and scholars in college student affairs work. As a national peer reviewed professional journal, The College Student Affairs Journal primarily seeks manuscripts which report original qualitative or quantitative research regarding topics of interest to student affairs practitioners, graduate students and faculty. In addition, however, general articles may include research reports, updates on professional issues, examinations of legal and policy issues, dialogues and debates, historical articles, literature reviews, opinion pieces, or projections of future trends.” The cover for the journal (which is the result of a contest among the membership) is attached. This is the only version I have; Brian or one of the Associate Editors may have it in a different format.

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The Commodification of Academic Research

Science and the Modern University

Edited by Hans Radder

Selling science has become a common practice in contemporary universities. This commodification of academia pervades many aspects of higher education, including research, teaching, and administration. As such, it raises significant philosophical, political, and moral challenges. This volume offers the first book-length analysis of this disturbing trend from a philosophical perspective and presents views by scholars of philosophy of science, social and political philosophy, and research ethics. The epistemic and moral responsibilities of universities, whether for-profit or nonprofit, are examined from several philosophical standpoints. The contributors discuss the pertinent epistemological and methodological questions, the sociopolitical issues of the organization of science, the tensions between commodified practices and the ideal of “science for the public good,” and the role of governmental regulation and personal ethical behavior. In order to counter coercive and corruptive influences of academic commodification, the contributors consider alternatives to commodified research and offer practical recommendations for establishing appropriate research standards, methodologies and institutional arrangements, and a corresponding normative ethos.

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Composing Research

A Contextualist Research Paradigm for Rhetoric and Composition

Cindy Johanek

Cindy Johanek offers a new perspective on the ideological conflict between qualitative and quantitative research approaches, and the theories of knowledge that inform them. With a paradigm that is sensitive to the context of one's research questions, she argues, scholars can develop less dichotomous forms that invoke the strengths of both research traditions. Context-oriented approaches can lift the narrative from beneath the numbers in an experimental study, for example, or bring the useful clarity of numbers to an ethnographic study.

A pragmatic scholar, Johanek moves easily across the boundaries that divide the field, and argues for contextualist theory as a lens through which to view composition research. This approach brings with it a new focus, she writes. "This new focus will call us to attend to the contexts in which rhetorical issues and research issues converge, producing varied forms, many voices, and new knowledge, indeed reconstructing a discipline that will be simultaneously focused on its tasks, its knowledge-makers, and its students."

Composing Research is a work full of personal voice and professional commitment and will be a welcome addition to the research methods classroom and to the composition researcher's own bookshelf.

2000 Outstanding Scholarship Award from the International Writing Centers Association.

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Compromising Scholarship

Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education

George Yancey

Conservative and liberal commentators alike have long argued that social bias exists in American higher education. Yet those arguments have largely lacked much supporting evidence. In this first systematic attempt to substantiate social bias in higher education, George Yancey embarks on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the social biases and attitudes of faculties in American universities—surveying professors in disciplines from political science to experimental biology and then examining the blogs of 42 sociology professors. In so doing, Yancey finds that politically—and, even more so, religiously—conservative academics are at a distinct disadvantage in our institutions of learning, threatening the free exchange of ideas to which our institutions aspire and leaving many scientific inquiries unexplored.

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