Today, most students in the United States must rely on some combination of loans and scholarships to attend college.
Over the course of her own journey through the higher education system, Deondra Rose, who recently joined the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science this fall as a fellow in the Moreau Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Program, says she became fascinated with the complicated history and politics surrounding the development of student aid.
“I started college in 2002,” she says, “and it had never occurred to me that student loans hadn’t always been available.”
Rose joined the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science this fall as a fellow in the Moreau Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Program, which offers one- or two-year research and teaching grants to scholars whose work involves marginalized groups. Rose’s research focuses on the development of government loan and higher education policies that helped eliminate discriminatory acceptance practices.
“My dissertation looks at how landmark higher education policies have developed and the impact they have had on gender equality—particularly their importance for offering equal educational opportunity for women.”
As a political scientist, Rose wants to understand the ways public policy can shape the direction of American life.
“I’m interested in how lawmakers connect solutions to some of the chronic challenges that we face in the United States,” she says.
Rose also argues that higher education policies aimed to eliminate inequality are crucial to more than just the act of learning. “People who have higher education are more likely to get involved in politics, so federal higher education policies are important in narrowing the gender gap in participation.”
Likewise, policies such as Title IX were crucial in incorporating women into the fabric of society as full economic citizens, she says.
Currently working on a book manuscript titled Citizenship by Degree: U.S. Higher Education Policy and the Changing Gender Dynamics of American Citizenship, Rose is also writing an article that analyzes early student-aid policies created after the upheaval of the civil rights movement and the sense of national humiliation over the Soviet Union’s successful launch Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite.
“The country saw this as a shame on our educational system, so lawmakers basically passed a successful higher education policy by playing on Cold War fears,” Rose explains. “They argued that we weren’t using our full ‘man power’—or woman power.”
Eager to Teach
As she continues her research, Rose says she looks forward to sharing her work and engaging in discussions with students in the classroom, noting that “teaching is one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do.”
Rose is teaching two courses in spring 2012: Inequality in American Politics and Policy and Politics. “As a graduate student and teaching assistant I enjoyed both these courses, and it will be nice to give them my perspective.”
As a teacher, Rose says, she seeks to “provide an environment that is conducive to intellectual growth and to critical evaluation of the topics we cover as well as one’s own views.
“It’s really important to me to help students gain the tools they need to think critically about politics long after the course comes to an end,” she says. “It’s important that we recognize the resources that are available to us as citizens that enable us to effect change.”