photo of Mac keyboard with a green button with the word education.

Photo credit: Got Credit

New conditions created by deindustrialization, new information technologies and innovative business strategies are heightening the economic importance of postsecondary credentials. Research tells us that the next generation of workers depends even more on educational success and obtaining postsecondary credentials. We also know that not all children have an equal chance of attending postsecondary and entering the most advantageous insitutions, programs and fields of study despite our efforts to expand the system and widen opportunities. Why?

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the key findings and issues of the social scientific study of higher education. To examine pathways to and through postsecondary, we first examine how the institutional and cultural context of higher education have changed, and how Canada is similar or different to the United States and parts of Europe. With a clear understanding of the context of higher education, we then take a step back and examine how student pathways start to diverge, often before they start school. We investigate how children’s school readiness, summer setback and family and neighbourhood contexts heavily inform students’ educational fortunes.

To bring these themes to life, students in this course spend part of their time working with at-risk youth in the Kitchener-Waterloo community. This placement provides students an opportunity to apply sociological theories and concepts related to higher education to a practical, hands-on tutoring or mentorship experience.