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The New Student Activists

The Rise of Neoactivism on College Campuses

Activism is once again back on college campuses as students protest issues such as sexual assault, climate change, racial injustice, and student debt. It's perhaps unsurprising that the current political moment has triggered the rise of a new breed of student activist—uncompromising, focused, and connected. But many pundits have variously derided student activists as either "snowflakes," too fragile to encounter opinions that run contrary to their own, or as "social justice warriors" who aggressively fight against those who transgress the ever-changing bounds of political correctness. The New Student Activists moves beyond these simple stereotypes and convenient caricatures to examine the nuanced motives and complex experiences of real-life, present-day college student activists.

Jerusha O. Conner offers insight into who these student activists are—the causes they care about, the strategies they deploy, the factors that motivate and sustain them, and the impact they have had on their campuses and beyond. Conner dubs today's student activists "neoactivists," who borrow from and build on the legacies of past generations of college student activists. Exploring when, how, and why this diverse group of students turned to activism, Conner examines the social and educational influences on their sociopolitical development. She also reveals the fraught but mutually transformative relationship between institutions of higher education and student activists in the contemporary moment.

Written for anyone interested in better understanding the latest wave of student activism on campuses, The New Student Activists raises fascinating implications for developmental theory and higher education policy and practice.

About the Author

Jerusha O. Conner is an associate professor of education at Villanova University. She is a coeditor of Contemporary Youth Activism: Advancing Social Justice in the United States and Student Voice in American Education Policy.

Endorsements

"A timely, fresh, and important book that fills a gap in contemporary work on youth civic engagement and young adult political activism. By coining the term 'neoactivism,' Dr. Conner captures both the political context and the new style of activism in this generation of student activists. This book transcends political silos and helps readers understand how political struggles and different kinds of oppression are interwoven for current activists."

- Constance A. Flanagan, University of Wisconsin–Madison, author of Teenage Citizens: The Political Theories of the Young

"An excellent book. Exceptionally well written, clearly organized, and persuasively argued, The New Student Activists makes a real contribution to our understanding of the new wave of student activism across US campuses. This theoretically sophisticated book represents the best of public scholarship, and it will draw interest across scholarly and public communities."

- Mark R. Warren, University of Massachusetts Boston, author of Lift Us Up, Don't Push Us Out! Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement

"Logical, clear, and compelling. This book is needed right now. Conner outlines the topic in a way that makes the reader care and want to know more about student activists and their roles in the larger society."

- Rebecca Ropers, Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, University of Minnesota

"The new economics of college are profoundly destabilizing the promise of American higher education. Thank goodness for today's #RealCollege students and their neoactivism—it is because of their leadership, beautifully described in this book, that there is still hope for the future."

- Sara Goldrick-Rab, Founding Director, Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream
Johns Hopkins University Press
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