Change in education is situated in broader social movements and political contexts. Institutions of higher education have responded to social movements demanding greater access to education, equity in access, and more inclusive learning environments during college, but have also faced backlash. This can be seen in the past several years with the Black Lives Matter movement challenging anti-blackness and systemic racism in institutions including colleges and campus police systems. Though some institutions have taken this as a call to action, reactionary politics has also introduced bans to African American Studies courses, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs, and Critical Race Theory (CRT). This tension between progress towards social change and reactionary tactics to maintain the status quo can be seen in Minnesota colleges and universities. At the same time that the supreme court case ruled against the use of Affirmative Action in college admissions, three universities in the state, including University of Minnesota, announced that they would be ending legacy admissions. The political push and pull in policy mirrors the larger paradox of higher education as a “social good” and also a system of social reproduction. This section provides scholarly articles and other resources about social movements directly tied to Minnesota and their connection to higher education.

Continuous Reflection Questions

  1. How do we, as individuals and as parts of institutions, hold colleges and universities accountable for moving beyond merely stating that Black Lives Matter or that they reside on stolen, indigenous land, and put those statements into action?
  2. How does higher education’s foundation in white supremacy and colonialism shape the ways that these institutions respond to student movements?
  3. How should institutions of higher education be influenced by political movements, and which movements should they be responsive to?
  4. In light of heightened attacks on unprecedented attacks on academic freedom, diversity, inclusion, equity, and academic freedom, how do we advance colleges and universities as invaluable spaces for grappling with social difference and systemic inequality?

Resources about Political and Social Movements in Minnesota

Deeper Dive

  • Bellecourt, Clyde, as told to Jon Lurie. The Thunder Before the Storm: The Autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2017.
  • Johansen, B. D. (2013). Encyclopedia of the American Indian Movement. Greenwood.
  • Nagle, R. (2019-present). This land [Audio podcast]. Crooked Media. https://crooked.com/podcast-series/this-land/

Water is Life

Reactions to change:

Scholarly References about Social and Political Movements

  • Bell, Berry, D., Leopold, J., & Nkomo, S. (2021). Making Black Lives Matter in academia: A Black feminist call for collective action against anti‐blackness in the academy. Gender, Work, and Organization, 28(S1), 39–57. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12555

  • Cordes. (2023). Place is everything: remembering responsibilities between and beyond land acknowledgments. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 20(2), 191–199. https://doi.org/10.1080/14791420.2023.2202724

  • D’Arcus, B. (2010). The urban geography of Red Power: The American Indian Movement in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, 1968-70. Urban Studies, 47(6), 1241-1255. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098009360231

  • Dancy, T. E., Edwards, K. T., & Earl Davis, J. (2018). Historically White Universities and Plantation Politics: Anti-Blackness and Higher Education in the Black Lives Matter Era. Urban Education, 53(2), 176–195. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085918754328

  • Jacobs, W. R., Thompson Taiwo, W., & August, A. (Eds.) (2021). Sparked: George Floyd, racism, and the progressive illusion. Minnesota Historical Society.

  • Moxley Rouse. (2019). Liberal Bias: The New “Reverse Racism” in the Trump Era. American Anthropologist, 121(1), 172–176. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13187

  • Williams, & Grande, S. (2023). Trumpocalypse and the Historical Limits of Higher Education Policy: Making the Case for Study/Struggle. Qualitative Inquiry, 29(3-4), 432–445. https://doi.org/10.1177/10778004211014615