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The Shape of the River:
Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions
William G. Bowen & Derek Bok
With a new introduction by the authors and a foreword by Glenn C. Loury

Winner of the 2001 Grawemeyer Award in Education
Winner of the 1999 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Government and Political Science, Association of American Publishers

One of Princeton University Press's Notable Centenary Titles.

Paperback | 2000 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691050195
544 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 103 line illus. 93 tables
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This is the book that has forever changed the debate on affirmative action in America. The Shape of the River is the most far-reaching and comprehensive study of its kind. It brings a wealth of empirical evidence to bear on how race-sensitive admissions policies actually work and clearly defines the effects they have had on over 45,000 students of different races. Its conclusions mark a turning point in national discussions of affirmative action--anything less than factual evidence will no longer suffice in any serious debate of this vital question.

Glenn Loury's new foreword revisits the basic logic behind race-sensitive policies, asserting that since individuals use race to conceptualize themselves, we must be conscious of race as we try to create rules for a just society. Loury underscores the need for confronting opinion with fact so we can better see the distinction between the "morality of color-blindness" and the "morality of racial justice."

William G. Bowen (1933-2016) was president emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University and founding chairman of ITHAKA.. His many books included The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions (with Derek Bok) (Princeton). Derek Bok is the 300th Anniversary University Research Professor at Harvard University, where he served as president from 1971 to 1991, and again as interim president from 2006 to 2007.


"The most ambitious and authoritative study to date of the effects of affirmative action in higher education, . . . a serious (though accessible) work of research, . . . an important corrective to conservative propaganda masquerading as social science."--Ellis Cose, Newsweek

"A compelling new book . . . demonstrates why affirmative action programs can be good for the country. . . . The authors prove with facts, not anecdotes, that affirmative action works. . . . With the presidential commission having fallen flat in trying to advance the national discussion on race, it may be the smaller-scale efforts, like the Bowen and Bok book, that better lay the groundwork for long-term change."--Los Angeles Times

"No study of this magnitude has been attempted before. Its findings provide a strong rationale for opposing current efforts to demolish race-sensitive policies in colleges across the country. . . . The evidence collected flatly refutes many of the misimpressions of affirmative-action opponents."--The New York Times

"The Shape of the River is the most comprehensive study ever done of affirmative action in higher education, and it demands the attention of anyone who cares about American universities."--David Gergen, U.S. News and World Report

"The Shape of the River . . . offers much more comprehensive statistics and much more sophisticated analysis than has been available before. Impressionistic and anecdotal evidence will no longer suffice: any respectable discussion of the consequences of affirmative action in universities must now either acknowledge its findings or challenge them, and any challenge must match the standards of breadth and statistical professionalism that Bowen, Bok, and their colleagues have achieved."--Ronald Dworkin, New York Review of Books

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Table of Contents:

List of Figures
List of Tables
Ch. 1 Historical Context 1
Ch. 2 The Admissions Process and "Race-Neutrality" 15
Ch. 3 Academic Outcomes 53
Ch. 4 Advanced Study: Graduate and Professional Degrees 91
Ch. 5 Employment, Earnings, and Job Satisfaction 118
Ch. 6 Civic Participation and Satisfaction with Life 155
Ch. 7 Looking Back: Views of College 193
Ch. 8 Diversity: Perceptions and Realities 218
Ch. 9 Informing the Debate 256
Ch. 10 Summing Up 275
App. A The College and Beyond Database 291
App. B. Notes on Methodology 336
App. C Earnings in Relation to Advanced Degrees, Sector of Employment, and Occupation 362
App. D. Additional Tables 375
References 451
Index 461

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by William G. Bowen:

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Derek Bok:


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