The Ocean in the School

Pacific Islander Students Transforming Their University

The Ocean in the School

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: Published: February 2020

Author: Rick Bonus

Asian American Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, Pedagogy and Higher Education

In The Ocean in the School Rick Bonus tells the stories of Pacific Islander students as they and their allies struggled to transform a university they believed did not value their presence. Drawing on dozens of interviews with students he taught, advised, and mentored between 2004 and 2018 at the University of Washington, Bonus outlines how despite the university's promotion of diversity and student success programs, these students did not often find their education to be meaningful, leading some to leave the university. As these students note, they weren't failing school; the school was failing them. Bonus shows how students employed the ocean as a metaphor as a way to foster community and to transform the university into a space that valued meaningfulness, respect, and critical thinking. In sharing these students' insights and experiences, Bonus opens up questions about measuring student success, the centrality of antiracism and social justice to structurally reshaping universities, and the purpose of higher education.


"Rick Bonus has provided us with important insights into what it might take to transform colleges and universities so that those who have been historically under-served can thrive in higher education. By placing the experiences of Pacific Islanders at the center of his analysis, Bonus brings incisive critique and profound authenticity to a subject that has bedeviled the efforts of educators for many years. For educators and others who seek to ensure that access to academia is available to marginalized and disadvantaged students, this book will be an eye opener." — Pedro A. Noguera, coeditor of Race, Equity, and Education: Sixty Years from Brown


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Rick Bonus is Associate Professor of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, coeditor of The “Other” Students: Filipino Americans, Education, and Power, and author of Locating Filipino Americans: Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Space.

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0672-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0604-6