A Compendium of Recent Research and Books of Interest to Higher Education Professionals



Higher Education Administration for Social Justice and Equity: Critical Perspectives for Leadership

Adrianna Kezar and Julie Posselt, editors
(Routledge, 2019)
This book encourages higher education administrators to engage in their work with a clear commitment to justice, sensitivity to power and privilege, and capacity to facilitate equitable outcomes. Establishing that administration for social justice should be a matter of daily work, the book translates abstract concepts and theory into the work of hiring, mentoring, budgeting, planning, and decision making. Chapters by scholars and practitioners in the field examine the way higher education administration is organized and explore different ways of organizing campuses reflective of equity and social justice goals. The volume provides insight across four areas: setting and shifting priorities, human resources, accountability and data, and culture and structure. Rich with case studies and pedagogical tools, the book is designed to be a practical resource for both current and aspiring administrators. Adrianna Kezar is Dean’s Professor for Higher Education Leadership at the University of Southern California and director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education. Julie Posselt is associate professor of education at the University of Southern California and research director of the Inclusive Graduate Education Network.

The Merit Myth: How Our Colleges Favor the Rich and Divide America

Anthony Patrick Carnevale, Peter Schmidt, and Jeff Strohl
(The New Press, 2020)
The Merit Myth examines ways in which U.S. colleges and universities intensify social inequalities instead of being the places of aspiration and equal opportunity they aim to be. The authors argue that U.S. universities are complicit in reproducing racial and class privilege across generations through policies that exacerbate inequality, such as by funding merit-based rather than need-based aid. The book offers a framework for system-wide change and includes policy recommendations such as reducing the weight of the SAT/ACT; halting legacy admissions; requiring that colleges have a student body made up of at least 20 percent low-income students; designing affirmative action plans that recognize the relationship between race and class; and measuring colleges by their outcomes, not their inputs. Anthony P. Carnevale is the director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Peter Schmidt is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered education policy and student access for Education Week and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Jeff Strohl is the director of research at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.


Diversity Regimes: Why Talk Is Not Enough to Fix Racial Inequality at Universities

James M. Thomas
(Rutgers University Press, 2020)
This book draws on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork at a public flagship university in the American South that is working to advance its diversity and inclusion efforts. Sociologist James M. Thomas exemplifies the conflicts and contingencies that occurred between a core set of actors at the university over what diversity is and how it should be accomplished. His analysis uncovers what he calls “diversity regimes”—a complex combination of meanings and practices that aim to institutionalize commitments to diversity but that can instead obscure, entrench, and even magnify existing racial inequalities. The examination of diversity regimes provides new insights into the social organization of multicultural principles and practices. As the struggles at “Diversity University” likely reflect similar dynamics at other colleges and universities (as well as at organizations and companies), this book is important reading for all campus leaders. James M. Thomas is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

The Art of World Learning: Community Engagement for a Sustainable Planet

Richard Slimbach
(Stylus Publishing LLC, 2020)
This book presents a transformative approach to community-engaged global learning—one that asks readers to rethink the purposes and design of study abroad programs in the context of global threats such as climate disruption, ecosystem breakdown, increasing inequality, and disappearing languages and cultures. The author emphasizes that to educate students to understand the challenges faced by global communities and act in ways that advance their social and environmental health, global learning curricula should integrate multi-disciplinary inquiry into the structural causes of world problems and develop mechanisms that encourage students to cross borders, pay attention, and listen to those unlike themselves. The practical guide explores fundamental program design questions that should resonate with all international educators. Richard Slimbach is coordinator of the global studies program at Azusa Pacific University (CA).

Learning Innovation and the Future of Higher Education

Joshua Kim and Edward Maloney
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020)
From active learning and inclusive pedagogy to online and hybrid courses, traditional colleges and universities have been leveraging their fundamental strengths while challenging long-held assumptions about how teaching and learning occur. Giving higher education professionals the language and tools they need to evolve and thrive in changing times, this book explores the context of digital learning—a new academic discipline that lies at the intersection of learning, technology, design, and organizational change. The book shows how digital learning exists within a larger body of scholarship, exemplifies how this scholarship is being used on campuses, and examines how universities can take insight from learning science and apply it organizationally and systematically. Joshua Kim is the director of digital learning initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning and a senior fellow at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship at Georgetown University. He also is a past presenter at CIC’s Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction workshop. Edward Maloney is a professor of English at Georgetown University, where he is the executive director of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship and the founding director of the Program in Learning, Design, and Technology.

AI and Humanity

Illah Reza Nourbakhsh and Jennifer Keating
(MIT Press, 2020)
Coauthored by a computer scientist and a scholar of literature and cultural studies, this book combines technical analysis with a humanities perspective to examine the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) systems on society. The authors explore the historical development of these technologies and how they affect our relationships to systems and to people, noting that “To positively influence the future arc of AI and humanity, we must study human-machine relations in the context of our human past and our technology’s possible future.” Originally developed as a textbook for an interdisciplinary humanities-science course at Carnegie Mellon University, the book offers discussion questions, exercises, and reading lists; a companion website provides updated resources and a portal to a video archive of relevant interviews. Illah Reza Nourbakhsh is K&L Gates Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He presented on “Technology, Education, and Our Robot Future” at CIC’s 2019 Institute for Chief Academic Officers. Jennifer Keating is assistant dean for educational initiatives at the Dietrich College of Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education

Scott Newstok
(Princeton University Press, 2020)
An enlightening and entertaining guide to the craft of thought, this book explores habits of mind that great artists and thinkers such as Shakespeare developed in their educations and lives and how contemporary society might begin to recover them. The 14 insightful, deliberately brief chapters draw from Shakespeare’s world and works, as well as from other past and present writers. The chapters focus on various learning techniques and mental practices that can help readers think more deeply, write more effectively, and learn more joyfully. While supporting a renewed focus on the liberal arts, the author advocates that the best way to overcome the human tendency to avoid thinking is by rigorously engaging with difficult ideas and intellectual traditions. Scott Newstok is professor of English and founding director of the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment at Rhodes College (TN).



Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century

(American Academy of Arts & Sciences [AAAS], June 2020)
Members of the AAAS Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship engaged with communities across the U.S. over two years to explore how best to respond to the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the nation’s political and civic life. This resulting bipartisan report includes six strategies and 31 recommendations to help the U.S. emerge as a more resilient democracy by 2026, the nation’s 250th anniversary. Among the recommendations in the report are to expand the House of Representatives (and the Electoral College); institute universal voting and instant voter registration for all eligible Americans; establish an expectation of national service by all Americans; and increase resources for community leadership, civic education, and a culture of commitment to constitutional democracy and one another. The commission recommends that the U.S. invest in civic educators and civic education for all ages and in all communities through curricula, ongoing program evaluations, professional development for teachers, and a federal award program that recognizes civic-learning achievements. Read the full report.

The First Amendment on Campus 2020 Report: College Students’ Views of Free Expression

(Knight Foundation and Gallup, May 2020)
This report is the third in a series by Gallup and the Knight Foundation that measures students’ knowledge of and value for the First Amendment. Conducted in fall 2019, the new survey includes responses from 3,319 full-time students aged 18 to 24 from 24 U.S. colleges and universities, including 15 public and nine private institutions. The survey found that college students today support First Amendment ideals of free expression, including dissenting political views, but they do not think those protections should include hateful speech targeting minority groups. Although most students agree that the First Amendment protects them, the view varies by subgroup (see figure below). Women, racial minorities, and Democrats are less inclined to believe the First Amendment protects them and are generally more willing to support campus restrictions. The report suggests that college students’ backgrounds and experiences shape their views of the limits of free speech and that colleges that use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to promoting free expression may leave many students feeling marginalized on campus. Access the full report.

Graph of student perceptions of first amendment protections
Source: The First Amendment on Campus 2020 Report: College Students’ Views of Free Expression, Figure 12.

2020 Survey of College and University Presidents

Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman, editors
(Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, March 2020)

Inside Higher Ed’s tenth annual survey of college and university presidents, conducted by Gallup, examines how these campus leaders view a wide range of opportunities and challenges, including those related to institutional financial health, change management, affirmative action, cross-racial engagement, U.S. Department of Education policies, and public views of the purposes of higher education. A total of 746 presidents of two- and four-year institutions responded to the survey in early 2020, 323 of whom were from private nonprofit colleges and universities. This is the first year that campus leaders were asked a set of questions regarding “change management,” and 69 percent of presidents expressed that their institutions need to make fundamental changes in their business models, programming, or other operations. Although 54 percent of presidents believe those at their colleges have the right mindset to adapt to needed change, only 45 percent think their colleges have the right tools and processes to do so. Presidents at private nonprofit colleges and universities (58 percent) are more likely than leaders at four-year public institutions (50 percent) to believe those at their college have the right mindset to respond to change. Read the full report.

COVID-19 on Campus: The Future of Learning

(College Pulse and Charles Koch Foundation, June 2020)

With the goal of helping campus leaders develop strategies for the 2020–2021 academic year, this report examines student opinion of university responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, student perspectives on online learning, and what students value in higher education. The study includes responses from 5,000 full-time undergraduates at 215 two- and four-year, public and private U.S. colleges and universities in late May. The survey results show that the majority of current college students (55 percent) have taken an online course at some point in their academic careers, with students at public institutions (66 percent) being far more likely to have done so than students at private colleges and universities (36 percent). Most students view online classes as inferior to in-person learning: 73 percent of students who have taken an online course and 84 percent of those who have never taken one before believe online courses are less effective. Students, however, are optimistic that online learning can be improved through technological refinements; 63 percent of students believe online learning can be improved by using a better technology platform. Read the full report.

Note: CIC research reports and projects are available on the CIC website.