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New Book Co-Edited by Gary Orfield Shines Light on Civil Rights and Higher Education

By John McDonald

The volume includes a look at college access and affordability, the Supreme Court's challenge to a half century of affirmative action.

Offering a “renewed vision for higher education policy making,” UCLA Professor and Civil Rights Project Co-Director Gary Orfield has joined with Nicholas Hillman, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as editor of an important and timely new book, “Civil Rights and Federal Higher Education,” to be published this February by Harvard Education Press. 

The publisher’s summary describes the new book as a volume that, “focuses on federal policy debates that have significant racial and socioeconomic implications, linking civil rights reforms to contemporary higher education policy issues.”

“College access and affordability became primary issues in the 2020 presidential campaign and the Supreme Court has now taken a fundamental challenge to a half century of affirmative action,” says Professor Orfield.  I hope that this book will help inform often limited debates on crucial issues about opportunity in America.” 

Plumbing the depths of history and current events, the new book illuminates how policy has drifted from the Higher Education Act’s aim of promoting and protecting civil rights, with far-reaching consequences for students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and students that are incarcerated, as well as the colleges that serve them. Chapters from the book’s contributors explore higher education issues such as enrollment at minority serving institutions, for-profit college outcomes, and legal and academic perspectives on affirmative action.

Defining the social justice dimensions of today’s federal policies, the editors make clear how political influences have preserved the interests of powerful and advantaged—often at the expense of those  with less power and more disadvantage.  

Civil Rights and Federal Higher Education is published by and available from Harvard Education Press.