Episode 22: Natasha Warikoo

As the Chief Strategy Officer for Noodle, Lee Bradshaw meets – you guessed it – a lot of interesting people in higher ed. In Noodle’s debut podcast, Bradshaw speaks with leaders from every facet of higher education to tease out their stories and learn about how they’re moving and shaking an industry that notoriously values tradition.

On this episode we welcome ⁠Natasha Warikoo⁠, the Lenore Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, Department of Sociology at Tufts University to the podcast. Natasha shares her path to studying affirmative action, starting with an early interest in teaching math and how different curriculums worked. She tells Lee about working in New York City public schools and their difficult middle school selection process. Natasha then explains what affirmative action is, what the term meritocracy really means, and how we should be thinking about each in regard to college admissions. The two discuss her most recent book, and how she argues that we should be moving away from the idea of fairness in college admissions and thinking more about how admissions align with institutional missions. Natasha and Lee then have a wide-ranging discussion that touches on colleges making progress on equity in admissions, possible solutions, the effect of donations on equity, and the implications of test optional admission practices.

Warikoo’s most recent book is, ⁠Is Affirmative Action Fair? The Myth of Equity in College Admissions⁠ (Polity Press, 2022), which argues that considering college mission makes clear the need for affirmative action. The book walks readers through the empirical evidence related to arguments about affirmative action.

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