The University of Arizona

UA Faculty Expert Informs U.S. Supreme Court Case

By University Communications, June 13, 2013
Jeffrey Milem, a professor in the UA Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice in the College of Education (Photo by Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)
Jeffrey Milem, a professor in the UA Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice in the College of Education (Photo by Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)

The UA is a leader in sharing research to shape national policy and conversation about diversity in higher education.

Affirmative action in higher education once again will be at the forefront of national news as the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case is expected at any moment.

Jeffrey Milem, a professor in the University of Arizona Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice in the College of Education, joined several researchers nationwide to develop an amicus brief summarizing key research on affirmative action in anticipation of the case.

Milem's research was included in no less than four different amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, including documents submitted by the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, American Social Science Researchers and Civil Rights Project at UCLA. 

Social science research has played an important role in affirmative action cases heard by the Supreme Court. Many social scientists provided evidence that a broadly diverse student body from a myriad of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences creates the fertile learning community necessary for positive learning outcomes, such as enhanced critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and creativity in and out of the classroom.

The voluminous body of research generated by a cadre of the best social scientists our nation has to offer – including the UA's Milem – is once again playing a role in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case. Many believe that a ruling in the Fisher case may have significant reverberations throughout higher education in that it may reopen the door to the court's earlier rulings on affirmative action. 

Any ruling must be carefully analyzed by legal and other campus experts, including social scientists before implications can be fully understood.

For more than 20 years, Milem has focused his research on ways to better evaluate the role of affirmative action in higher education and to ensure related discussions are meaningful, constructive and well-informed.

"Regrettably, too often, decisions regarding these issues are driven by myths, misinformation, and unfounded vitriol. This brief and the others I worked on, plus the many others filed, provide powerful examples of how solid, empirical research can be used to inform critically important social and political issues in our society," Milem said.

Thus, the UA is a leader in sharing research to shape national policy and conversation about diversity in higher education.

Contacts

Jeffrey Milem

College of Education

520-626-7313

jmilem@email.arizona.edu