Higher education has always mirrored, perpetuated, and even exacerbated inequality in the US, and the pandemic is making things even worse. College enrollments have declined significantly, especially at community colleges and private for-profit schools, leading to program and faculty cuts at many institutions. As Sherry Linkon writes in Working-Class Perspectives this week, that undermines the quality of education, especially at the public institutions where most poor and working-class students attend college.
Working-Class Studies Association Secretary Colby King, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at USC-Upstate in Spartanburg, SC, published a an op-ed this past week in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal advocating for better protections for students and front line workers in the COVID-19 economy. Colleges and universities have taken on tremendous efforts to slow the spread of the virus by moving instruction online. To effectively slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, though, we all need our communities to join in the efforts as well, he argues.
Are you supporting students and workers in your community? Please share your stories with WCSA! Tweet at us @wcstudies or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org And, feel free to adapt this letter for your own advocacy as appropriate!
Working-Class Studies Association Steering Committee member Colby King, alongside colleague Dr. Laura Ramsey, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Bridgewater State University, presented a Faculty Plenary “Exploring Class and Gender in STEM” at the 2018 Winter Massachusetts PKAL Regional Network Meeting.
This session explored how gender and class shape students’ experiences in STEM fields and in particular, how the culture of STEM disciplines may be mismatched with the cultural expectations of women and working-class students, creating barriers to these students’ success and motivation in STEM. The session highlighted research, by each presenter and others, on gender and social class related to STEM education.
WCSA Steering Committee member Colby King, along with colleagues Jakari Griffith and Meghan Murphy, recently published an article in Teacher-Scholar: The Journal of the State Comprehensive University describing outreach efforts in support of first-generation and working class college students at Bridgewater State University (BSU), a state comprehensive university where a majority of students come from first-generation or working class backgrounds. The article describes programming organized by Class Beyond the Classroom (CBtC), a faculty and staff group at BSU, in which CBtC members share their stories about going to college as a first-generation and/or working class college student. The article discusses how these events validate first-generation and working class students, encourage students’ sense of belonging, and supports the success of all students by fostering their development of social, cultural, and psychological forms of capital.
Lynn Arner, a WCSA member and Associate Professor in the Department of English at Brock University, was interviewed by James M. Van Wyck about her work studying how class backgrounds and gender shape the careers of English professors. The interview was published today by Inside Higher Ed.
In the article, Van Wyck writes that, “Arner’s work complements a growing body of research examining the clunky apparatuses by which higher education seeks to diversify the professoriate.” Read more here.