About ‘Contested Issues in Troubled Times’


Edited by


Foreword by


Lori D. Patton

Book Rationale

Contested Issues in Troubled Times: Student Affairs Dialogues about Equity, Civility, and Safety augments its predecessor which addressed social, educational, and moral concepts and concerns of student affairs work that transcends content areas and administrative units. However, as we have seen in recent years, many of the same challenges are still prevalent: tensions between theory and practice, academic affairs and student affairs, and issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. However, this time, we delve deeper into aspects of students affairs work around equity, access, civility, and safety, in an effort to continually infuse learning and social justice into the profession.

The second installment in the Contested Issue series addresses these issues by asking another 24 critical, and potentially contentious, questions that go to the heart of contemporary educational practice. Intended equally for future student affairs educators in graduate preparation programs, and as material to supplement professional practice, this book is designed to stimulate reflection and prompt readers to clarify their own thinking and practice as they confront the complexities of higher education.

Student affairs faculty, administrators, and graduate students offer diverse and necessary perspectives for each of the 24 questions, offering relevant background information, context, key terms, and their own perspectives and responses, set in the context of the changing nature of student affairs work for the better. Each initial essay is followed by a response essay that offers additional perspectives and complications, reminding readers of the ambiguity and complexity of many situations.

Each chapter concludes with discussion questions intended to spark continued reflection and dialogue. Readers are invited to join conversations on contested issues of interest through engagement with the book’s social media channels, including this blog. Use the links on the right to navigate to our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds.

We look forward to sharing news and starting conversations with you!

Book Focus

Contested Issues in Troubled Times: Student Affairs Dialogues on Equity, Civility, and Safety asks readers to ponder the following questions:

  • What is your level of understanding of the many moral, ideological, and political issues that student affairs educators regularly encounter?
  • What is your personal responsibility in addressing these issues?
  • What are the rationales behind your decisions?
  • What are the theoretical perspectives you might choose and why?
  • How do your responses compare with those of colleagues?
  • What additional training or experiences might you seek in order to best prepare you to address these issues?

Book Organization

The 24 questions are organized into four units.

Part I – The first part of the book introduces the types of issues discussed in the book and the difficult dialogues being had in the student affairs profession regarding equity, civility, and safety.

Part II – The second part begins to explore how student affairs practitioners navigate various personal and professional identities as they play a part in a responsibility to cultivate inclusive learning environments for diverse student demographics. This includes addressing challenging topics, typically difficult to discuss in everyday practice, such as exploring how politics play into the current racial climate, how to define and support student success, understanding how trauma, gender identity development, and marginalized identities factor into the holistic experience, and more.

Part III – The third part transitions to discussing what types of professional development is relevant and necessary for student affairs professionals to cultivate the inclusive learning environments above and beyond. This includes addressing appropriate pre- and post-undergraduate preparation, continuing topical and valuable research, navigating the boundaries between personal and professional identities as displayed in digital spaces and on social media, exploring meaningful self-care practices, and more.

Part IV – The final part of the book looks to the promise and potential of future student affairs practice and the implications of placing fostering inclusive learning environments at its epicenter.