Tracing the Arc: The Shifting Conceptualizations of Educational “Disadvantage” and “Diversity” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Tracing the Arc: The Shifting Conceptualizations of Educational “Disadvantage” and “Diversity” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • Carl A. Grant Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706-1707, USA
  • Alexandra Allweiss Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706-1707, USA


Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 3698 | Downloads: 2749


Abstract:  This article calls attention to the shifting conceptualizations of belonging and inclusion at universities in the U.S. through shifting framings of “educational disadvantage” and “diversity”. Historically these concepts have been used in various and shifting ways to think about the “Other” and to determine the lines of inclusion and exclusion to access to higher education spaces. This article uses a leading public university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a historical case study to examine the ways the university has responded to those who have historically been excluded from public higher education spaces and the ways inclusion has been expanded and redefined through struggle. This case study is an invitation to carefully consider the current discourses and policy debates about university “diversity” efforts and the inclusion of “disadvantaged” students. We raise questions about what inclusion means.

Keywords:  diversity; disadvantage; higher education; student organizing

Published:   31 July 2014


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v2i1.37


© The author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.