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While the political and economic conversation in the United States in recent years has focused on annual deficits, national debt, and how spending cuts can put the country on more stable financial ground, there has been little discussion about the plight of our poorest citizens and the increasing slide of middle-class families into poverty. At the same time, the growing gap between the rich and the poor (or even between the rich and the middle class) in the United States and the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is difficult to justify. This gap affects all citizens. A significant amount of research—spanning from Putnam’s Bowling Alone(2000) to Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level (2009)—highlights the deleterious effects of wealth inequality on a society. These effects include increased crime, mental illness, educational underachievement, and more. In such a situation, American colleges and universities cannot sit idly by. During the next two years, the Society for Values in Higher Education will seek to foster a conversation about these issues among faculty and across campuses. In particular, SVHE will . . .

* Focus its 2013 annual meeting at the University of Denver on the issue of debt. The theme of the meeting is Debt: Obligations that Shape Our Lives. Please visit the Call for Papers on this website for further information.

* Fund a Reading for the Common Good project. The project will provide small grants for book purchases for faculty reading groups on campuses. This year, groups can choose between David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. For more information, contact Eric Bain-Selbo (see below).

* Focus its 2014 annual meeting on the issue of economic inequality. More information about that meeting will be available next year.

For more information, contact Eric Bain-Selbo at