Law and Social Justice in Higher Education: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Law and Social Justice in Higher Education

1st Edition

By Crystal Renée Chambers


298 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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The latest volume in the Core Concepts in Higher Education seriesexplores the complexity of law in higher education and both the limits and opportunities of how law can promote inclusivity and access on campus. Through a historical and legal framework, this volume discusses undergraduate students' histories of inclusion and struggles for social justice in higher education by race, sex, social class, dis/ability, and sexual orientation. Bridging research, theory, and practice, Law and Social Justice in Higher Education encourages future and current higher education and student affairs practitioners to consider how they can collaborate to further a just society.  

Special features:

  • Discussion of case law illustrates the reach and limits of law and where higher education professionals can continue to push for social justice.
  • Accessible to non-lawyers, chapters highlight key legal terms and key concepts to guide readers at the beginning of each chapter.
  • End-of-chapter questions provide prompts for discussion and encourage student interactivity.


"Law and Social Justice in Higher Education explores the juxtaposition between law and society in higher education with an emphasis on the evolution of social justice both as a political concept and as a transformative resource. This book’s exploration of the experiences of particular sectors of society--especially minorities, women, and people with disabilities-- significantly contributes to both the scholarship of social justice and the responsibilities of higher education to motivate and foster change."

-Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO, American Indian College Fund

"Chambers’ Law and Social Justice in Higher Education contributes substantially to the field of higher education and to critical discourses that address underlying challenges of race, gender, and class disparity in America and its colleges and universities. Reading this compelling book reminds me why I agreed to start this book series on core issues in higher education."

-From the Series Editor Introduction by Edward P. St. John, Algo D. Henderson Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan

Table of Contents


List of Figures

Series Editor Introduction



Chapter 1: Justice, Social Justice, and Higher Education

Philosophical Foundations of Social Justice



From Justice as Political Philosophy to Social Justice

Social Justice and Beliefs about Inequity

Social Inequity and Oppression

Indicators of Social Oppression

Social Inequity and College Enrollment


Chapter 2: Citizenship and Racial Fragmentation: College Access from the Colonial Era to the Antebellum PeriodOrigins: Universal Rights for Select Individuals

The Status of People of Color in the Antebellum Period

Abolition and the Aftermath of the Dred Scott Decision

The Higher Education of People of Color from Colonial Times through the Progressive Era

This Land Was Our Land

A Brief History of Native American Higher Education in the Colonial Era

Early Black, Native American, and Puerto Rican Higher Education

Strangers from a Different Shore

We Didn’t Cross the Border, the Border Crossed Us


Chapter 3: Breaking Barriers: From Emancipation to Desegregation

The Legal Status of Blacks after the Civil War

The Case of Homer Plessy

The Mismeasure of Man

The Struggle for Racial Equality in the Progressive Era

A Strategy

The Legal Decisions

The Academic Battle


Chapter 4: Desegregating Historically White Colleges and Universities

Desegregating Historically White Institutions: The 1950s

Black College Students in Historically White Institutions

First Black Undergraduates in Southern Flagships

Student Activism in the 1950s

College Trends: 1960-1966

Desegregation in the 1960s

Campus Conditions


Chapter 5: Student Activism and Institutional Transformation

The Rise of Student Led Activism

Civil Disobedience: The Sit Ins

Freedom Rides

Voter Registration, Freedom Schools, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

Movement Evolution

The Broader Civil Rights Struggle

On Campus

Changes in Student Enrollments

Student Activism

Student Power

Student Protests: North and South, Black and White, HBCUs and HWCUs

The Lasting Influence of Student Activism

Academic Affairs

Student Affairs


Chapter 6: Affirmative Action, the Desegregation of Higher Education Systems, and the Proliferation of Minority Serving Institutions

Affirming Actions

Legal Standards

Affirmative Action in University Admissions in Court

The Desegregation of Dual Systems of Higher Education

The Case of Jake Ayers

Higher Education Desegregation beyond Mississippi

The Costs of Desegregation Suits

The Proliferation of Minority Serving Institutions

Chapter 7: Women’s Subjugation and Higher Education from the Colonial Era to the mid-1960s

Women’s Legal Subjugation

The Social Order

Women’s Education in an Emergent Nation

Women’s Activism and the Beginnings of Women’s Higher Education

First Institutions and the Curriculum

The First Generation of Women Graduates


Women in Higher Education: The Progressive Era

The Second and Third Generations of College Women

Deans of Women

Women’s Higher Education in the Postwar Era

Suppressing Women in STEM

Women on the Homefront

Activism in the Post-War Era

Thinking Differently about Womanhood

Sex and Criminal Law

Regulating to Prevent Sex on Campus

Chapter 8: The Sex Revolution and Reminiscences

Consciousness Raising and Feminism in the 1960s-1970s

The Downside of Success

General Considerations: Women and the Law

Title IX: Securing Women’s Rights in Education

Admissions and Financial Aid

Joining the Adams Suits

Women on Campus

The Chilly Classroom

Women’s Studies: A Curricular and Scholarly Response

Chilly Climates beyond the Classroom

The Special Case of Women in Athletics

Women’s Health and Safety

Chapter 9: Law and the Advancement of Social Justice in Higher Education: Considering Social Class, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Dis/ability

Social Class

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity


Summary: Advancing Towards a Socially Just Future in Higher Education

About the Author

Crystal Renée Chambers is Associate Professor of Higher Educational Leadership at East Carolina University, USA.

About the Series

Core Concepts in Higher Education

Core Concepts in Higher Education is a textbook series for the education of new professionals, covering the core areas of study in the field of higher education and student affairs. This timely and dependable series provides the necessary tools to ensure practice is informed by theory and research. The books in this series invite students to think critically about the field to discover what has been left out and what needs to be learned, and also provides frameworks and constructs for addressing challenges facing higher education. The Core Concepts in Higher Education series moves thought, action, and scholarship forward by valuing, reconstructing, and building on the foundations of the field. Through a rich combination of research, theory, and practice, this series aims to move the field into a new generation of scholarship to better prepare students for authentic leadership of our colleges, universities, and academic communities.

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