Book by: Christopher J. Broadhurst and Georgianna L. Martin (eds.)
Review By: Melissa A. Jones
Transfer Specialist
Mānoa Transfer Coordination Center, University of Hawaii at Mānoa

While overseeing and advising students on issues related to campus activism may not be the primary focus of advising, advisors are often faced with situations surrounding this topic. “Radical Academia?” Understanding the Climates for Campus Activists provides readers with a comprehensive overview of how campus activism has evolved, why it is important, and where it is headed today. Common myths associated with campus activism include the idea that campus activists are “radicals” (p.1), and therefore, disruptive to the campus community. Through the use of historical accounts, empirical data, and case studies, the authors aim to dispel common myths associated with campus activism, and provide higher education professionals with a better understanding of the needs of student activists. This book offers insight into why campus activism is an important factor in shaping our students as well as our campus culture. 

An historical framework suggests that issues promoting campus activism are often cyclical and are a continuation of earlier eras leading as far back as the implementation of higher education (p. 12). The author’s emphasize the importance of understanding that campus activism is often deep rooted and stems from key issues like politics surrounding war, educational funding/tuition, social justice, multiculturalism, group identity, and promoting diversity. Learning the historical foundation in which student activism has evolved can help advisors to better understand and support student activists, which can improve the efforts of faculty and staff in partnering with students. 

This book identifies several ways in which faculty and staff can be instrumental in guiding and bridging student efforts to promote change through activism. The authors suggest that student activism can lead to student learning and development. “Radical Academia?" Understanding the Climates for Campus Activists explores the idea that student activism promotes democratic engagement and partnerships between students and faculty/staff that can foster more meaningful learning outcomes for students (pg. 31). Several key learning outcomes are identified that may result in student development. The learning outcomes highlighted include: a.) developing plans for change, b.) determining strategies, c.) learning approaches to consciousness raising, d.) learning the language of those in power and how “the system” works, e.) understanding mediation and negotiation, f.) using data to influence decision makers, and g.) navigating and overcoming obstacles in the change process (p. 33). The authors take it one step further and provide suggestions on how faculty and staff can partner with students in each of the identified learning outcomes. A common consensus is that faculty and staff can be instrumental in guiding and coaching students on how to address administration, and how to effectively promote change though campus activism. 

“Radical Academia?” Understanding the Climates for Campus Activists may be useful to advisors who are looking to gain a better understanding of student activism and how it can promote student development on campus. This book may also help faculty and staff understand the role that they can safely play as student advisors and collaborators. I would suggest this book if you are looking for tips on how to partner with students through campus activism. This book provides both formal and informal roles, which advisors can play while instilling and promoting their institution’s mission.

“Radical Academia?” Understanding the Climates for Campus Activists (2014). Book by Christopher J. Broadhurst and Georgianna L. Martin (eds.). Review by Melissa A. Jones. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 92 pp. (Paperback), ISBN 978-1-118-96656-3 

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