About the Book

The Walls Around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education by Gary Orfield. This book explores the systematic failure of American higher education to provide equity to students of color and the growing consequences in a society becoming primarily nonwhite, with a rising need for educated people, which has failed to effectively incorporate and educate the future majority. The book shows how the society operates in ways that make race a powerful force in creating and sustaining unequal precollege opportunity on many levels and then tries, unsuccessfully to resolve the issues—particularly the issues of preparation and affordability—with race neutral policies.



Watch the Livestream


About Our Compelling Interests

At a time when society is swiftly transforming, the Our Compelling Interests book series lays out the premise that for a democracy to thrive, diversity is critical. The initiative comes when we are contemplating a changing societal landscape. Major demographic changes taking place in America today necessitate a renewed discussion about diversity. The question we must now ask ourselves is whether we are indeed planning properly, and what shape that plan must take if we are to be successful and prosperous moving forward together. The series promises to explore diversity—in racial, socioeconomic, gender, religious, regional, sexual, and other forms—through accessible, sophisticated, and balanced treatments by leading scholars, writers, intellectuals, and commentators.

This series launched in the fall of 2016 with an overview volume, Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society. The second title, The Diversity Bonus: How Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy, sheds light on how diversity offers communities a prescription for thriving now and in the future and gives nations a competitive edge. Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise, the third volume, examines broader questions about the importance of religious diversity in the cultural, political, and economic life of the nation. The upcoming fourth volume will cover the successes and limitations of affirmative action admissions policies in higher education.

The Our Compelling Interests initiative was created by Dr. Earl Lewis and the book series is co-led and co-edited by Dr. Lewis and Dr. Nancy Cantor. With support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Our Compelling Interests is one of the projects the newly established University of Michigan Center for Social Solutions has undertaken. It has commissioned future volumes on educational access and testing, crime and incarceration, art and creativity, and education and social mobility. With the aid of a steering committee, additional publications are being conceived.