Diversity and Democracy

In Print

Understanding the Working College Student: New Research and Its Implications for Policy and Practice, Laura W. Perna, editor (Stylus Publishing 2010, $32.50 paperback)

With this in-depth, comprehensive collection of recent research, editor Laura W. Perna draws much-needed attention to the needs of the growing share of students who work. Using contributions from leading scholars, the volume details the vast diversity in students' experiences surrounding work and school. The collection emphasizes the significant contributions that policymakers and educators could make by creating academic cultures, educational initiatives, and financial practices that acknowledge the reality of work in students' lives. It also underscores the importance of using work as a lever for increasing student engagement. The book is an important resource for anyone considering how economics can and could affect student success.

The First-Generation Student Experience: Implications for Campus Practice, and Strategies for Improving Persistence and Success, Jeff Davis (Stylus Publishing 2010, $29.95 paperback)

Author Jeff Davis offers keen insight into the first-generation student experience with this readable, informative, and persuasive volume. Smartly pairing academic analysis with student narratives, Davis describes and demonstrates the key barriers to student success for this growing contingent of American students. By decoupling parental education from family income, Davis underscores how many first-generation students' struggles originate in a lack of experience with college culture or college-going identity. He presents a range of promising recommendations to support the increasing number of first-generation students who are now enrolling in American higher education.

Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities, William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos, and Michael S. McPherson (Princeton University Press 2009, $27.95 hardcover)

This ambitious data review explores how students' success in higher education correlates to various characteristics, including race, socioeconomic status, and parental education level. Using data collected from twenty-one flagship public universities and four statewide systems, the study tests old assumptions (regarding the value of SAT scores in predicting college success, for example) and proposes new hypotheses (such as the somewhat counterintuitive idea that students who choose schools for which they are overqualified are more likely to fail). Full of important information about who succeeds in American public education, this book is a key contribution to the literature on who graduates, what they study, and what circumstances seem to support or impede their success.

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Martha Nussbaum (Princeton University Press 2010, $22.95 hardcover)

In this "manifesto," Martha Nussbaum issues a "call to action" for educational reform focused not on economic productivity, but on democratic citizenship. Drawing examples primarily from the United States and India, Nussbaum delineates a history of educational philosophy grounded in the liberal arts and geared toward an appreciation of the fullness of human experience. This brief volume incisively argues that higher education around the globe must reprioritize toward preparing students to become "citizens of the world"--a task that will require schools to cultivate imagination, empathy, and other trademarks of humanistic education. Nussbaum's analysis is a moving reminder of the humanities' practical consequence.

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