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RSF Bulletin

New Book: Bridging the Gaps: College Pathways to Career Success

College-for-all has become the new American dream. Most high school students today express a desire to attend college, and 90 percent of on-time high school graduates enroll in higher education in the eight years following their graduation. Yet, degree completion rates remain low for nontraditional students—those who are older, low-income, or have poor academic skills—even at community colleges that endeavor to serve them. What can colleges do to reduce dropouts?

In Bridging the Gaps: Pathways to Career Success, a new book from RSF, education scholars James Rosenbaum (Northwestern University), Caitlin Ahearn (UCLA), and Janet Rosenbaum (SUNY Downstate Medical Center) argue that when institutions focus only on bachelor’s degrees and traditional college procedures, they ignore other pathways to educational and career success. Using multiple longitudinal studies, the authors evaluate the shortcomings and successes of community colleges and investigate how they can promote sub-baccalaureate credentials—such as associate degrees and college certificates—that can improve employment outcomes for students. Young adults who complete these credentials have higher employment rates, earnings, autonomy, career opportunities, and job satisfaction than those who enroll but do not complete their programs. The authors conclude that turning college-for-all into a reality means making more students aware of their multiple credential and career options.

Read more or purchase a copy of the book.

RSF Author, Former Trustee, and Margaret Olivia Sage Scholar Richard Thaler Awarded Nobel Prize in Economics

Richard Thaler (University of Chicago) has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for his contributions to behavioral economics. Thaler is a former RSF trustee, a member of the foundation’s Behavioral Economics Roundtable, and a Margaret Olivia Sage scholar. He also authored the RSF book Quasi Rational Economics (1994) and edited the RSF volume Advances in Behavioral Finance (1993).

Robert Solow (MIT), RSF Robert K. Merton Scholar and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987, said of the announcement: "Dick Thaler's imagination, ingenuity and good-humored persistence played a major role in bringing behavioral economics from the fringes of the discipline to one of its important concerns. It is characteristic of his work that an anomalous observation or passing insight is developed into a practical device for doing good. There is a lot of unexplored territory still to be worked over, and I hope that this honor will attract others to follow Dick Thaler's lead with the same openness and curiosity."

Thaler is the eighth scholar affiliated with the Russell Sage Foundation who has won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

View the full list of RSF-affiliated Nobelists.

Visiting Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Former Visiting Scholar Betsy Levy Paluck Named 2017 MacArthur Fellows

Current visiting journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones (New York Times magazine) and former visiting scholar Betsy Levy Paluck (Princeton University) were among the twenty-four individuals awarded 2017 MacArthur Foundation fellowships. MacArthur fellowships are given annually to individuals of "of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations."

Hannah-Jones (right) is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine focusing on segregation and other forms of racial injustice. Paluck, a psychologist at Princeton University, was a visiting scholar at RSF during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Read the full announcement.

Reminder: Letters of Inquiry Due November 30

The Russell Sage Foundation is accepting letters of inquiry until November 30, 2017 at 2pm ET/11am PT in the following areas: Future of Work, Social Inequality, Behavioral Economics, as well as the special initiatives on Non-Standard Employment and The Social, Economic, and Political Effects of the Affordable Care Act.

View all funding opportunities and application guidelines.

Event: Book Discussion with RSF Author Scott Allard on Places in Need

On November 14, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University will host an online discussion on the RSF book Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty with author Scott W. Allard (University of Washington).

In Places in Need, Allard tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last twenty-five years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers. Yet, rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Renée Wilson-Simmons, director of the NCCP, will join Allard for the book discussion. The talk is free and open to the public with registration.

Neil Smelser, 1930–2017

The Russell Sage Foundation is saddened to report the passing of sociologist Neil Smelser, who served on the foundation's board of trustees from 1990 to 2000, co-edited the RSF book Leading Edges in Social and Behavioral Science (1990), and contributed to the RSF volume After Parsons (2005).

Smelser was emeritus professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was known for his work on behavioral science and his role as a liaison between the university administration and student groups during the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s. He also served as director of Stanford University's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences from 1994-2001. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, and was elected president of the American Sociological Association in 1997. He earned his B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University from 1952-1954.

Smelser's published works include Economy and Society (1956), Theory of Collective Behavior (1962), The Sociology of Economic Life (1963), Social Paralysis and Social Change (1991), The Social Edges of Psychoanalysis (1998), and Dynamics of the Contemporary University (2013).

Read the full obituary from the University of California, Berkeley.

Read tributes to Smelser from his colleagues and students.

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