OIE Diversity Newslinks

Book of the Month

The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America

By Lani Guinier

Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: 1/13/2015

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A fresh and bold argument for revamping our standards of “merit” and a clear blueprint for creating collaborative education models that strengthen our democracy rather than privileging individual elites

Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation’s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools.

Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit. As a result of private merit standards and ever-increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship.

To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders. Guinier presents a plan for considering “democratic merit,” a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave.

Guinier goes on to offer vivid examples of communities that have developed effective learning strategies based not on an individual’s “merit” but on the collaborative strength of a group, learning and working together, supporting members, and evolving into powerful collectives. Examples are taken from across the country and include a wide range of approaches, each innovative and effective. Guinier argues for reformation, not only of the very premises of admissions practices but of the shape of higher education itself.

Lani Guinier, "Educational Justice & the Integration of American Schools"

Website Spotlight

Office of Minority Health Resource Center

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Office of Minority Health

About OMH Resource Center

The Office of Minority Health Resource Center is a one-stop source for minority health literature, research and referrals for consumers, community organizations and health professionals. As the nation's largest repository of information on health issues specific to African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, the Resource Center offers a variety of information resources, from access to online document collections to database searches to customized responses to requests for information and assistance.

Capacity Building

The Resource Center provides technical assistance designed to increase the strength and competence of health care agencies and programs, especially those that focus on HIV/AIDS in underserved communities. Examples of the type of assistance provided include communications, community outreach and program design.

Information Services

Resource Center staff research and respond to telephone, e-mail and mail inquiries from the public. Examples of information they can assist with include database search results, funding sources and the most current data specific to a variety of health conditions and issues affecting racial and ethnic minorities.

Knowledge Center

The Knowledge Center is the largest dedicated repository of health disparities information in the nation, with a collection of 50,000 documents, articles, reports, books, journals and media related to the health status of racial and ethnic minority populations. The library collection also includes sources of consumer health material in more than 35 languages.

2015 Marks 100th Birthday of John Hope Franklin

Duke University Celebrates and Honors His Legacy

John Hope Franklin Centenary

The yearlong series of events honoring the legacy of John Hope Franklin--renowned historian, scholar, activist, and citizen--can be found at a website dedicated to the celebrations.

Dr. Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, built his reputation as a scholar in 1947 with the publication of his book, From Slavery to Freedom: History of African-Americans, still considered the definitive account of the black experience in America.

As a distinguished scholar, Dr. Franklin used his authority and expertise to foster political and social change. And as a teacher, he inspired his many students and colleagues to delve deeper into the causes and remedies of inequality, bigotry and oppression.

Dr. Franklin worked on the Brown v. Board of Education(1954) case, was active in the civil rights movement, headed President Clinton’s 1997 national advisory board on race, and witnessed the inauguration of the nation’s first black president.

I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I can not imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.

Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people.
—BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States

John Hope Franklin lived for nearly a century and helped define that century. A towering historian, he led the recognition that African-American history and American history are one.
—RICHARD H. BRODHEAD, Duke President

John Hope Franklin was one of the most important American historians of the 20th century and one of the people I most admired… He graced our country with his life, his scholarship and his citizenship.
—BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United States

Dr. John Hope Franklin's Last Public Interview

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