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Special Issue of ‘Contexts’ Magazine Tackles Troubled
State of Higher Education in U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC, December 6, 2012 — In an effort to raise awareness and generate public discussion about the troubled state of higher education in the United States, the editors of Contexts have produced a special issue of the magazine.

“As a nation, we’re at a crucial moment in terms of higher education,” said Arlene Stein, a sociology professor at Rutgers University and co-editor of Contexts, a quarterly magazine of the American Sociological Association that makes cutting-edge social research accessible to general readers.

“There’s a crisis of access and affordability: government is providing less funding for public education; tuition costs, particularly at public universities, have skyrocketed during the past three decades; and students are heavily in debt. At the same time, cost-cutting and reorganization have led to market-driven solutions, such as the outsourcing of teaching; the push to generate private research money; and the transfer of governance from faculty to professional administrators.”

Features in the special issue of Contexts include:

• The Education Assembly Line: Experts weigh in on how money and restructuring are changing higher learning.

The (Mis)education of Monica and Karen: When big state universities prioritize the needs of affluent students, in-state undergrads often fall through the cracks.

Anti-Social Debts: As the federal government shifts more of the cost of higher education onto consumers, are we producing a generation of indentured students?

The Not-So-Pink Ivory Tower: Women now comprise more than half of all college graduates, but that doesn’t mean they’re out-competing men.

Teaching to Distraction: Reimagining the college classroom in an age of texts and tweets.

Degree by Default: A bachelor’s degree is the new normal—but is that a good thing?

“Most Americans believe that a college education is a ticket to equality and opportunity, and that it prepares us to be active citizens,” said Jodi O’Brien, a sociology professor at Seattle University and co-editor of Contexts. “And yet, as a nation, we are ambivalent about our commitment to financing education and to ensuring access for all. Arlene and I hope this special issue of Contexts will encourage people to think more deeply about how the policies that are being instituted today—influenced by corporatization, market-driven reforms, and debt financing education—will shape educational priorities for years to come.”

A complimentary copy of the special issue of Contexts is available by request for members of the media. For a copy, contact Daniel Fowler, ASA’s Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, at (202) 527-7885 or pubinfo@asanet.org. More information about Contexts can be found at www.contexts.org/.

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About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.