Morton Wins AAC&U Book Award


The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) has awarded its 2020 Frederic W. Ness Book Award to Jennifer Morton, associate professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for her Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility (Princeton University Press).

The Frederic W. Ness Book Award “recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding and improvement of liberal education… To be eligible for the award, a book must focus on liberal education as an evolving tradition, on the role and value of liberal education in a particular context or setting, or on an issue or topic in postsecondary education that is discussed substantially in relation to liberal education.”

The AAC&U writes:

Published in 2019, Moving Up Without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Cost of Upward Mobility, delves into the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and looks at the ethical dilemmas of upward mobility—the broken ties with family and friends, the severed connections with former communities and the loss of identity—faced by students as they strive to earn a successful place in society. Drawing upon philosophy, social science, personal stories and interviews, Morton reframes the college experience, factoring in not just educational and career opportunities but also essential relationships with family, friends and community. Finding that student strivers tend to give up the latter for the former, negating their sense of self, Morton seeks to reverse this course. She urges educators to empower students with a new narrative of upward mobility—one that honestly situates ethical costs in historical, social and economic contexts and that allows students to make informed decisions for themselves. A powerful work with practical implications, Moving Up without Losing Your Way paves a hopeful road so that students might achieve social mobility while retaining their best selves. “Morton’s compelling book advances our understanding of how working-class, low-income and immigrant college students navigate higher education and the deeply personal choices and sacrifices they are often required to make,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella.

The award, which includes $2000, will be formally presented at the 2021 AAC&U meeting in January (being held online). A few philosophers have won the award since its establishment in 1979. You can see a list of previous winners here.

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