The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities

Room TBA, School of Education (Building R19)
Social Sciences
Wednesday 4th October 2017 (12:00-13:00)
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Speaker: Natasha K. Warikoo, Harvard University

Natasha K. WarikooHow do students at elite universities make sense of the admissions process, given the loud public critiques they hear? The Diversity Bargain draws on interviews with students at top American and British universities—Harvard, Brown, and Oxford—to reveal just how winners of supposedly meritocratic systems make sense of those systems.

Along the way Warikoo illuminates how students think about race, showing that students’ conceptions of race are deeply tied to their beliefs about fairness in admissions, especially in the United States. White American students express a diversity bargain, supporting affirmative action in as much as it benefits themselves, while white British students reject considerations of both race and class in admissions, maintaining faith in standardized exams and university interviews to select the most deserving students. Ultimately, students’ perspectives in both the United States and Britain will maintain racial inequality if they continue to hold little understanding of and vision for reducing racial inequality in society—and in particular in the outcomes of the admissions process—as they currently seem to do.

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