Community Conversations is a series of events bringing together Waterville faith and community institutions with Colby faculty and students to consider major issues of common concern. This series engages scholars from the field of Jewish studies and civic leaders in order to discuss the intersection of Jewish civilization and current political issues in the United States.
One of the greatest political and cultural fault lines in America today is the divide between those American citizens with and without a college degree. The attainment of a four year degree (and in particular, those awarded from elite institutions) not only shapes the way in which citizens perceive the world, but also the ways in which individuals are perceived by fellow citizens, potential employers, and those who wield cultural influence and political power. In light of the political developments over the past four years, we will discuss the nature and impact of educational status discrimination, and the ways in which rewards granted for actual or perceived merit in the current American system has shaped our current moment.
We will also discuss the following questions: Can this rift be bridged? If so, how can we achieve greater equity in power, influence, and status while still maintaining the unique value of higher education? Finally, how does this rift specifically impact Waterville and central Maine.