Book Reviews

Book by: Reason, Robert D., Broido, Ellen M., Davis, Tracy L., Evans, Nancy J. (Eds)
Review by: Roger A.E. Callanan
Division of Undergraduate Academic Programs
North Carolina State University 


This latest addition to the New Directions for Student Services series is a challenge to educators - both inside and alongside the classroom – to recognize our opportunities and responsibilities to participate in student formation concerning issues of social justice.  Although focused primarily on the work of Student Affairs professionals - administrators, faculty and advisors would be wise to take to heart this book’s charge that we all can – and ought to - impact the status quo by intentionally and purposefully influencing social systems of power and access. 

The authors have created an excellent resource that serves a variety of functions.  It is a primer on issues of diversity, multiculturalism, multiple identity, and social justice; it reviews current research relative to identity development, cognitive development, and student learning; it presents models for the creation of ally development experiences; and it educates majority groups regarding the realities of membership in groups with limited independent access to power or voice.  Individual chapters target men, heterosexuals, whites, and the (temporarily) “abled” as sources for alliances.  Each chapter also includes thorough summaries of relevant theories, as well as barriers and strategies.  This is a “how to” book with a strong academic “soul.” 

Although direct utility for the traditional academic advisor is not initially obvious, this volume could easily suffice as the primary text for a fascinating and demanding social justice course that would be part of an advisor’s development.  As institutions increasingly come to accept “advising” as “teaching,” then it also becomes increasingly important for advisors to prepare themselves to recognize and embrace the differences in our students, and influence them to embrace differences in their peers and in their world.  This text’s focus on majority group allies does not just deliver an inspiring “feel-good” message; it repeatedly emphasizes the vital work of translating attitude into action – for our students, but also for ourselves as professionals within the academy.

This text is definitely not an easy read.  Each paragraph – each sentence – is honed into succinct, efficiently rich language.  It is on a mission to instruct, inform, and then to charge each of us to use majority group privilege to correct the lack of access to social systems by those with historically and currently devalued group identities.  It leads the discussion of what, then why, then how.  It nourishes a conversation of how to use unearned privilege to make a difference, as well as how to dismantle that privilege.  Thoughtful, careful readers will certainly become better informed – about social justice issues, the work of developing allies, and about themselves.



Developing Social Justice Allies (New Directions for Student Services #110). (2005). book by Reason, Robert D., Broido, Ellen M., Davis, Tracy L., Evans, Nancy J. (Eds). Review by Roger A.E. Callanan. San Francisco: Wiley, 89 pp. Price $27.00. ISBN 978-0-7879-8077-1


 

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