The Shoestring Initiative

Advancing socioeconomic diversity in Canadian universities

Reads & Watches

We have an ever-growing library of articles, books, videos, etc. for community members to check out. If you know of any great additions to our list, please let us know.

Quotes & Miscellanea


Adair, V. (2005). US working-class/poverty-class divides. Sociology, 39(5), 817-834.

Appiah, K. A. (2018). Why social class matters, even if we don’t agree what it means. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Beeston, L. (2016). Nearly 40 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students experience ‘food insecurity:’ study. The Star.

Biss, M. (2017). Canada is nowhere close to ending the student debt crisis. Huffington Post.

Chatelain, M. (2018). We must help first-generation students master academe’s ‘hidden curriculum. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Elbow, P. (2006). The believing game and how to make conflicting opinions more fruitful. In C. Weber (Ed.), Nurturing the peacemaker in our students: a guide to teaching peace, empathy, and understanding. Don Mills, ON: Heinemann.

Hare, J. (2013). Students under financial stress. The Australian.

Levin, B. (1995). Educational responses to povertyCanadian Journal of Education, 20(2), 211-224.

McCrory Calarco, J. (2018). Why rich kids are so good at the marshmallow test. The Atlantic.

Quarry, J. (2018). Coming out as working class. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Sayer, A. (2005). Class, moral worth and recognition. Sociology, 39.

Smith, A. A. (2018). Tackling poverty to increase graduations. Inside Higher Ed.

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Anzaldúa, G. (1999). Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books.

"Rooted in Gloria Anzaldúa's experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist, and a writer, the essays and poems in this volume profoundly challenged, and continue to challenge, how we think about identity. BORDERLANDS/LA FRONTERA remaps our understanding of what a "border" is, presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit, and that inhabits all of us."

De Botton, A. (2004). Status anxiety. Toronto, ON: Viking Canada.

"This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us, about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety. Alain de Botton asks—with lucidity and charm—where worries about our status come from and what, if anything, we can do to surmount them. With the help of philosophers, artists, and writers, he examines the origins of status anxiety before revealing ingenious ways in which people have learned to overcome their worries in their search for happiness."

Kahlenberg, R. D. & Century Foundation. (2004). America’s untapped resource: low-income students in higher education. New York, NY: Century Foundation Press.

"With access to higher education more important than ever, low-income students of all racial and ethnic groups continue to lag in participation. What can be done to ensure that more low-income students have adequate financial aid to attend college? That disadvantaged students are academically prepared for college and can persist to graduation? That selective universities are open to students of all economic backgrounds? As [U.S.] Congress prepares to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, a group of widely respected scholars proposes a number of provocative ideas in this volume." 

Kozol, J. (2012). Savage inequalities: children in America’s schools. New York, NY: Crown Publishing.

"For two years, beginning in 1988, Jonathan Kozol visited schools in neighborhoods across the country, from Illinois to Washington D.C., and from New York to San Antonio. He spoke with teachers, principals, superintendents, and, most important, children. What he found was devastating. Not only were schools for rich and poor blatantly unequal, the gulf between the two extremes was widening—and it has widened since.  The urban schools he visited were overcrowded and understaffed, and lacked the basic elements of learning—including books and, all too often, classrooms for the students. In Savage Inequalities, Kozol delivers a searing examination of the extremes of wealth and poverty and calls into question the reality of equal opportunity in [U.S.] schools."

Rodríguez, C. O. (2018). Decolonizing academia: poverty, oppression and pain. Winnipeg, MB: Fernwood Publishing.

"Poetic, confrontational and radical, Decolonizing Academia speaks to those who have been taught to doubt themselves because of the politics of censorship, violence and silence that sustain the Ivory Tower. Clelia O. Rodríguez illustrates how academia is a racialized structure that erases the voices of people of colour, particularly women. She offers readers a gleam of hope through the voice of an inquisitorial thinker and methods of decolonial expression, including poetry, art and reflections that encompass much more than theory."

Vedder, R. (2004). Going broke by degree: why college costs too much. Washington, DC: Aei Press.

"American universities are facing a crisis of growing magnitude. Sharply rising tuition fees have led to a rising chorus of complaints - and serious questions about the future of higher education in this country. Are tuition increases that rapidly outpace the rate of inflation pushing higher education out of reach for more and more people? Is this cost explosion a recent phenomenon? What are we getting in return for these higher tuition fees? In Going Broke by Degree, economist Richard Kent Vedder explains why costs are rising so fast and what can be done about it."

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Canadian Association for Graduate Studies. (2018). Report of the task force on dissertation: purpose, content, structure, assessment. 

Silverthorn, D. (2016). Hungry for knowledge: assessing the prevalence of student food insecurity on five Canadian campuses. Toronto, ON: Meal Exchange

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NUS: ‘Working-class students face poverty’ – Branwen Jeffreys, BBC

"The NUS set up a poverty commission to gather evidence on the experiences of students from the age of 16. Its report, ... argues that wherever they study, the costs for working class students are a major hurdle."

On Complaint – Sarah Ahmed

What does it mean, and what does it cost, to make a complaint? This question is at the heart of Sara Ahmed’s research into institutional power, and it forms the basis of this energetic, wide-ranging lecture.

Listening to Shame – Brené Brown

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.

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“‘For many generations past,’ it is observed, ‘a scholar whether rich or poor, has in England, held the name and station of a gentleman.’ We are very willing to admit, the becoming a scholar, makes a gentleman of a beggar; but he must first become one.”

 – Henry Brougham, Esq. (excerpt from A letter to Sir Samuel Romilly, M. P., 1818)

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

― Albert Einstein

“Out of poverty, poetry; out of suffering, song.”

– Mexican saying

“In a fractured age, when cynicism is god, here is a possible heresy: we live by stories, we also live in them. One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, or we are also living the stories we planted—knowingly or unknowingly—in ourselves. We live stories that either give our lives meaning or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we can change our lives.”

– Ben Okri (excerpt from A Way of Being Free, 1989)

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

– Cornel West

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

– Marianne Williamson

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