Book By: JQ Adams and Pearlie Strother-Adams
Review By: Cathlene E. McGraw
Lundquist College of Business
University of Oregon
The anthology, Dealing with Diversity, provides an excellent resource to advisors, though the title may initially be misleading. The phrase “dealing with diversity” connotes engaging difference as an undesirable chore as well as a collapse of the complexities of lived experiences into one umbrella term “diversity.” Advisors who work among multiple and competing demands for their attention and time might be drawn to the idea of dealing with diversity, or finding a quick set of rules for working with students experiencing dynamic, complex, and different lived experiences. However, the content of Dealing with Diversity suggests that the contributing authors caution against simplifying human relations into “do’s” and “don’t’s”. Alternatively, the book provides an anthology of short readings offering any advisor at least one lens that is different from their own worldview or lived experience. The chapters in the book are designed to assist readers to understand their own biases, to gain knowledge of contributing authors’ worldviews and experiences across differences, and to encourage the development of readers’ skills in engaging differences.
While not specifically intended for advisors, the book lends itself without any additional facilitation or resources needed for group discussion among advisors. These discussions could create opportunities to build a common language during an exploration of issues and practices impacting advisees. Because advisors come from a wide variety of disciplines, a shared language is critical to developing strategic plans and assessment strategies for advisors and advising units on campus that can measure the efficacy of retention programs among marginalized student populations.
The variety of voices offered in the book provide advisors with an opportunity to explore race, sexuality, gender, ability, religion, veteran status, with an additional opportunity to explore resistance to the benefits of cross cultural engagement through the inclusion of by David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Such a variety of experiences allows advisors to imagine and empathize with members of student populations while allowing students to enter the discussion at their comfort level. Of great benefit to advisors, is an opportunity to increase understanding of how power and privilege affect advising relationships. The book provides several skill building activities that advisors can use to increase their understanding. Discussion of the passages could help advisors understand which advising practices are responsive to the needs of advisees and which might be inhibiting advisees and advisors from developing the most constructive advising relationship.
Missing from the anthology, likely due to the gap in time between the publications of this the second edition and the current fourth edition, are contemporary voices in higher education. For example, contemporary organizations supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students in higher education, have shifted resources in practice toward creating equity for transgender students. A discussion of issues impacting transgender concerns is absent in the book. Additionally, the lived experiences of people working through addiction and mental health concerns are absent.
This textbook could serve as a primary text to an academic advising continuing education courses exploring diverse perspectives and experiences in advisees. At several universities utilizing this book as part of education, sociology, or professional development coursework, supplemental course materials have been developed to promote discussion and action relevant to each particular profession.
Dealing with Diversity, second edition. (2008). Book by JQ Adams and Pearlie Strother-Adams. Review by Cathlene E. McGraw. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. 530 pp. $80.33. ISBN 978-0-7575-4773-7