Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy

For a Special Issue on

The Politics and Policy of Including Historically Underrepresented Students in Higher Education

Abstract deadline
15 November 2023

Manuscript deadline
01 March 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Tiina Itkonen, California State University Channel Islands
[email protected]

Henri Pesonen, University of Oslo
[email protected]

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The Politics and Policy of Including Historically Underrepresented Students in Higher Education

The OECD (2018) reported that post-secondary attainment has increased overall in recent decades. In fact, universities enroll an increasing number of students from historically underrepresented groups (e.g., Salmi & D’Addio, 2021). These include minoritized students populations (e.g., U.S. Census Bureau, 2020), students from refugee and immigrant backgrounds (e.g., Kalalahti et al,. 2017; Krasnik et al., 2020), indigenous students (e.g., Roland, 1993), students with disabilities (e.g., AHEAD, 2019; Cole and Cawthon, 2015; Davis, 2021), first-generation students (RTI, 2019), and LGBTQ+ students (e.g., Cantor, 2020; Postsecondary National Policy Institute, 2020). Yet, the data indicate that despite the gains in higher education diversity, degree completion rates are low in many countries, as only approximately 39 percent of students complete their bachelor’s degree in the normative time (OECD, 2018). There is also great variation among subgroups. For example, students with mental health and other invisible disabilities are significantly less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than students without disabilities (Carroll et al., 2020). Furthermore, a focus on increasingly neoliberal competition and high achievement demands in higher education can create even more barriers for historically underrepresented students (e.g., Pesonen et al., 2021).

With an increased diversity in the student body, there is an increased level of attention among scholars, educational institutions and policy makers to address higher education access and completion among historically underrepresented and minoritized groups (e.g., Herbaut & Geven,
2019; Itkonen et al., 2019; Varjo et al., 2020), including outreach policies, financial aid programs, policies that target retention, and policies which combine financial supports while reducing other non-monetary barriers (Salmi, 2020). Participatory research approaches have also emerged to include the voices of underrepresented students themselves to understand the socio-political issues in higher education with the aim to improve policies and practices (e.g., Pesonen et al., 2020, 2021). In sum, equity promotion policies matter in increasing both access and educational outcomes (Salmi & D’Addio, 2021).

While a more traditional policy analysis is often used to examine education policies (e.g., Bardach, 2012; Honig 2006; Pesonen et al., 2015), other frameworks have taken hold in understanding the issues of equity and inclusion in higher education. These include the social construction of marginalized populations and subsequent implications to policy design (e.g., Itkonen, 2009; Schneider & Ingram, 1993, 2005) and intersectionality-based policy analysis (Hanvisky, 2012). The latter seeks to explicitly understand “the varied equity-relevant implications of policy and for promoting equity-based improvements and social justice within an increasingly diverse and complex population base” (Hanvisky, 2012, p. 33).

This special issue focuses on the inclusion of historically underrepresented students in higher education from a policy and politics lenses.

We invite empirical (qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods), theoretical, and policy
analysis papers that examine the politics, policy making processes, and/or implementation issues at the intersection of policies and practice in including students who are disadvantaged and/or come from historically underrepresented populations.

We also invite papers which address empirical complexities from policy or political lenses in serving underrepresented populations: discussions regarding the politics of language and terminology in institutions of higher education; analysis of
inclusive/postcolonial curriculum and implications to policy/politics; discussions regarding recruitment, retention, promotion of staff from underrepresented groups and its relation to students.

Intersecting identity components for minoritized students may consist of race, indigeneity, socioeconomic status, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, immigration/refugee status, spirituality, language, and education (Crenshaw, 1991; Martinez, 2018; Timothy, 2019). We also invite papers which examine structural inequalities more broadly, such as wealth and resource disparities which result in
discriminatory practices.

Submission Instructions

Send a 500-word abstract to both special issue editors by the due date.
[email protected]
[email protected]

For research manuscripts, the abstract should explicitly state the focus of the article, theoretical grounding, research design and questions, preliminary results and their significance to advancing the politics, policy making or policy implementation toward equity and inclusion for historically underrepresented and/or marginalized student groups. Policy papers can conclude with policy recommendations based on the analysis. We invite papers from a variety of countries, but the manuscripts should relate to, elaborate on or be of relevance to the Nordic region and Nordic scholarship in accordance with the Nordic Journal Of Studies In Educational Policy (NordSTEP)

• Proposal 500-word abstracts due 15.11.2023
• The authors will be informed by 2.12.2023 if their abstract will be accepted
• Final date to submit full manuscripts is 1.3.2024 after which the manuscripts go through
the peer review process
• Final acceptance will be in September 2024
• Special issue will be published in November/December 2024

The special issue does not provide language proofreading or translation; authors should utilize their own institutions for any such services.

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