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“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.” --Rosa Parks
“I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.” --Malala Yousafzai
The sentiments above live out in the scholarship and life of Estela Bensimon—professor, researcher, and activist. Staying within the theme of our fall series, Bensimon is a master cultivator of equity and social justice in higher education. “For me,” says Bensimon, “equity-mindedness means being race-conscious in a critical way, as opposed to colorblind—being cognizant of how racism is produced through everyday practices, and having the courage to make racism visible and discussable.” The philosophical underpinning of the Center for Urban Education (CUE), which she founded and directs, is polymathic at its core--that it is more important to teach how to learn than what to learn, and this requires a revision of the system. Bensimon advocates remediating practices, structures, and policies in higher education, more specifically, incorporating race-consciousness into that structural change. We must change how faculty, in particular, think about their practices, and how their practices even unintentionally are contributing to graduation inequities among students of color. And the fruit produced from Bensimon’s work? Providing historical disadvantaged, oppressed populations equal access and opportunities to discover and live out their unique visions and purposes in life. “It is time,” wrote Maya Angelou, “to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Come join Professor Bensimon in conversation and share your beauty and strength with your polymathic peers.
Estela Bensimon, Professor of Higher Education & Director of the Center for Urban Education
Estela Bensimon is a professor of higher education at the USC Rossier School of Education and Director of the Center for Urban Education, which she founded in 1999. In order to increase racial equity in higher education outcomes for students of color, she developed the Equity Scorecard - a process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice and culture. She has published extensively about equity, organizational learning, practitioner inquiry and change, with articles appearing in journals such as the Review of Higher Education, Journal of Higher Education, Liberal Education, and Harvard Educational Review. She served as President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education from 2005-2006 and as Vice President of the American Education Research Association, Division on Postsecondary Education from 1992-1994. She earned her doctorate in higher education from Teachers College, Columbia University.