Auburn University continuing Critical Conversations Speaker Series with Anthony Jack

Published: August 29, 2019
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Auburn University is continuing its commitment to encouraging conversations around intellectual diversity, inclusion and free speech in higher education with the Critical Conversations Speaker Series. First generation college student, Harvard University assistant professor and author Anthony Jack will speak on campus Nov. 7.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jack on campus to discuss his research on the experiences of low-income students within the academy,” said Taffye Benson Clayton, associate provost and vice president for Inclusion and Diversity. “The continuation of the Critical Conversations Speaker Series explores how our shared values of free speech and civil discourse are being both critically discussed and thoughtfully applied at Auburn University.”

Jack, sociologist and assistant professor of education at Harvard University, is transforming the way diversity and inclusion are addressed in education. His new book, The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students, reframes the conversation surrounding poverty and higher education. In it, he explains the paths of two uniquely segregated groups. First, the “privileged poor”—students from low-income, diverse backgrounds who attended elite prep or boarding schools before attending college. The second are what Jack calls the “doubly disadvantaged”—students who arrive from underprivileged backgrounds without prep or boarding schools to soften their college transition. Although both groups come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the privileged poor have more cultural capital to navigate and succeed in the college environment and beyond.

“It’s one thing to graduate with a degree from an elite institution, and another thing to graduate with the social capital to activate that degree,” Jack explains.

In many ways, rather than close the wealth gap, campus culture at elite schools further alienates poor students by making them feel like they don’t belong. To challenge these deeply ingrained social, cultural and economic disparities on campus, he we must first begin to question what we take for granted. Jack reveals how organizations—from administrators and association organizers, to educators and student activists—can ask the right questions and bridge the gap.

Jack is a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. His research has been cited by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, The National Review, The Washington Post, American RadioWorks, WBUR and MPR. His book, The Privileged Poor, was named the 2018 recipient of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize by Harvard University Press.

His talk at Auburn will be held at 5 p.m. at 2550 Mell Classroom Building @ RBD Library.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.