New Research Shows Value of Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity on Campus

Distance Education Courses for Public Elementary and Secondary School Students: 2009–10A new study published in the June 2013 issue of the American Educational Research Journal finds that greater socioeconomic diversity among the student body at colleges and universities fosters better interracial interactions on campus. Researchers surveyed more than 15,000 students at 102 colleges and universities across the United States on their interactions with people of different races and economic backgrounds. The results showed that students who had a higher level of interaction with people outside their economic group also tended to have more interaction with different racial groups.

Lead author Julie J. Park, an assistant professor of education at the University of Maryland, stated, “Social class and race not only affect who goes to college, but what actually happens to students once they begin the journey of learning together. For one thing, sharing similar socioeconomic backgrounds provides a way for students of different races to find common ground,. Socioeconomic diversity in combination with racial diversity creates a safer, more level playing field where people can meet and learn from each other.”

Dr. Park is the author of When Diversity Drops: Race, Religion, and Affirmative Action in Higher Education (Rutgers University Press, 2013). The book examines the impact of the ban on race-sensitive admissions at California’s state universities.

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