Student Activism and Curricular Change in Higher Education

Student Activism and Curricular Change in Higher Education LOOK INSIDE
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  • Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur, Rhode Island College, USA
  • Series: The Mobilization Series on Social Movements, Protest, and Culture
  • While higher education is still far from universal in the United States, it plays an increasingly large role in shaping our collective understanding of what knowledge counts as legitimate and important. Therefore, understanding the college curriculum and how it is changed and shaped helps us to understand the overall dynamics of knowledge in contemporary society.
    This book considers the emergence of three curricular fields that have developed and spread over the past half century in American higher education - Women's studies, Asian American studies and Queer/LGBT studies. It details the broader history of their development as knowledge fields and then explains how, when, and why individual colleges and universities may choose to adopt such innovations. Based on in-depth case studies of curricular change processes at six colleges and universities across the United States, the book demonstrates that social movements targeting colleges and universities play a major role in curricular change and sets forward a new model for understanding what it takes for social movements targeting organizations to make an impact.
  • Contents: Preface; Part I Introduction: The promise (and the threat) of curricular change; Interdisciplinary studies in context: the births of women’s studies, Asian American studies, and queer studies. Part II Six Cases: A place to become women: Abigail Adams College; Our work is never done: Promenade University; Reaching for tomorrow: Technopark University; Fighting the good fight: Jeffrey University; Fanning the flames of knowledge: Sagebrush University; Understanding human experience: the College of Assisi. Part III Analysis: Moving curricular change: the process and product of change campaigns; Curricular change and collective action: a conclusion; Methodological appendix; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Author: Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Rhode Island College, USA
  • Reviews: 'Student Activism and Curricular Change in Higher Education is an excellent addition to the new and exciting research on movements in the university. Highly recommended for those interested in political sociology and education.'
    Fabio Rojas, Indiana University, USA

    'Student Activism is a fresh and timely contribution to our understanding of how contentious actors destabilize institutionalized practices beyond the state. Creatively merging social movement and organizational theory, this book tells us why certain colleges and universities institute Women’s, Asian American, and Queer Studies programs, while others resist. Essential reading for scholars of contentious politics, higher education, and organizational studies.'
    Edward T. Walker, University of Michigan, USA

    'This is an interesting book and surprisingly so for those of us, who like myself have a limited experience of higher education in the USA. ... Thinking through what changing curricula in higher education says about our identity and values as a community is well worth the effort. Additionally this is done in order to comment on how change occurs in institutions, which by their nature, are intended to reproduce socially valuable knowledge.'
    Australian Universities Review

    '... provides a rigorously developed framework that theorises the successes and failures of student and staff movements to implement curricular change in higher education establishments. ... This work is well written and provides a thoughtful and engaging analysis for those who have a keen interest in new knowledge movements and how new academic disciplines emerge in the university. ... offers insights into how effective social movements can enable the twenty-first century university to fulfil its mandate of narrowing social inequalities. ... of relevance to anyone who needs to mobilise against departmental closure.'
    Irish Journal of Sociology

    'Arthur's model represents an innovative effort to import concepts from the social movements literature into an organizational context... In short, Arthur's book advances a compelling, provocative, and fruitful theory of social movements operating within and targeting organizations...'
    American Journal of Sociology

    ‘Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur provides a refreshing view of college students’ activism… This book provides numerous insights that could be useful to readers interested in interdisciplinary fields, campus activism, or social change more broadly. Arthur’s case studies are diverse and rich. While the schools represent various levels of acceptance of Women’s Studies, Asian-American Studies, and Queer Studies, they illustrate that these fields can interest a wide range of students in numerous educational settings… a book that is engaging, informative, and accessible. The text clearly shows the importance of tracing the history of curricular change and thinking critically about what knowledge “counts��� and who engages in the “counting.” The book illustrates the potential of the campus as a space for inspiring and achieving social change, an important reminder to activists and academics alike.’

    'This book makes a much-needed intervention in that it examines curricular change movements as a social movement in institutions of higher education. Moreover, Student Activism and Curricular Change in Higher Education makes an important contribution because it provides an accurate and analytical model to understand and predict the outcomes of curricular movements centered in higher education. This is a text that has particular utility for scholars of higher education and students and faculty interested in curricular reform. More importantly, however, this book not only expands our understanding of what curricular change looks like and how one could predict the outcomes of curricular reform efforts, but it also provides an important reminder that such reform is still needed today and the analysis provided here pushes us to consider how to effectively achieve this.'
    Educational Review

    'Student Activism and Curricular Change in Higher Education is a book likely to be cross-disciplinary in its audience, being of interest to scholars of social movements, higher education, educational history and political sociology. … Central to the book is the argument that organisations have become a more dominant force within the social world, and resultantly social movements that mobilise against them are by proxy more significant or salient. Arthur is then trying to give ‘a window into such movements’ (p. 171), and I would argue that she does this successfully, presenting the reader with an insightful view that curriculum change is an important aspect of the educational landscape, and that such mobilisation is alive and thriving within campus environs. … A particular strength offered by the book is in terms of the clear and useful methodological considerations it offers to the reader. … particularly beneficial for students developing research in this subject area.'
    Social Movement Studies