In 2005, Elizabeth Aries chronicled what 58 Amherst College freshman—Black and white, affluent and lower-income—learned from racial and class diversity. Her study emphasized the value of campus diversity at elite colleges. Four years later, Aries interviewed the same students about their diversity experiences as they graduated. Now, eight years later, she re-interviews her participants to see how and to what extent race and class continue to play a role as they move into adulthood.
The Impact of College Diversity details how exposure to diversity in college helped shape Black and white graduates process issues of economic and racial privilege and inequality at age 30. She investigates how college diversity experiences also facilitate the attainment of upward social mobility in lower-income students and the role that mobility played in their relationships with family and friends in their home communities. Aries further examines how interactions with peers of another race and class influenced development of citizenship skills and civic engagement, as well as Black students’ ability to cope with the challenges they faced in the professional world.
Aries concludes her study with a discussion of why elite colleges have been beneficial in promoting upward mobility in lower-income students, and the importance of achieving equity and inclusion in making diversity initiatives successful.
In Race and Class Matters at an Elite College, Elizabeth Aries provides a rare glimpse into the challenges faced by black and white college students from widely different class backgrounds as they come to live together as freshmen. Based on an intensive study Aries conducted with 58 students at Amherst College during the 2005-2006 academic year, this book offers a uniquely personal look at the day-to-day thoughts and feelings of students as they experience racial and economic diversity firsthand, some for the first time.
Through online questionnaires and face-to-face interviews, Aries followed four groups of students throughout their first year of college: affluent whites, affluent blacks, less financially advantaged whites from families with more limited education, and less financially advantaged blacks from the same background. Drawing heavily on the voices of these freshmen, Aries chronicles what they learned from racial and class diversity—and what colleges might do to help their students learn more.
In Speaking of Race and Class, the follow-up volume to her groundbreaking Race and Class Matters at an Elite College, Elizabeth Aries completes her four-year study of diversity at a prestigious liberal arts college. Here, the 58 students—affluent, lower-income, black, and white—that Aries has interviewed since they were Amherst freshmen provide a complete picture of what and how each group learned about issues of race and class.
Aries presents the students’ personal perceptions of their experiences. She reveals the extent to which learning from diversity takes place on campus, and examines the distinct challenges that arise for students living in this heterogeneous community. Aries also looks more broadly at how colleges and universities across the country are addressing the challenges surrounding diversity. Speaking of Race and Class testifies to the programming and practices that have proven successful.