Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU professor featured in presentations on social class

April 4, 2011

One ISU professor is creating a buzz with his research and presentations about social class on campus.

Will Barratt, an associate professor of educational leadership in the Bayh College of Education at ISU, has given national presentations for more than five years regarding social class. He has recently published a book on the topic and continues to do staff development training sessions at universities across the nation.

"Social class is about people; they're tangible characteristics you would associate with groups of people," Barratt said. "I try to give them a description of three different classes of people and teach them how different classes have differing experiences when they come into college."

His work recently culminated in the publishing of his book, "Social Class on Campus: Theories and Manifestations," which is noted by the publisher as being a playful text with a serious underlying purpose.

Barratt's research is unique, providing his audience with an opportunity to obtain a broader sense of how social class influences their personal lives. Instead of focusing on the population as a whole, he said he focuses his research towards university students as it's an audience he's learned a lot from after being around university campuses for more than 30 years.

His presentations seek to engage students and provide them with a conceptual framework of what social class is. The presentations introduce three different women: Louise; who represents the lower class, Misty; who represents the majority class, and Ursula; who represents the upper class.

These classes represent female students who have come from three different sets of social backgrounds. For example, Louise lived in a small town where she had limited travel and has strong family values. Ursula came from a more affluent family where both of her parents are professionals, allowing her to travel extensively and embrace new culture. Misty, who represents the majority class, is more of an average representation of incoming middle class female students.

Barratt then articulates how students from each of these classes experience college differently and teaches the audience about how students will always look to align themselves with the majority class.

"It is important the each of us becomes more aware of all forms of diversity on campus, from religion to social class," Barratt said. "In this way we can begin to be more inclusive and work with each other more justly"

Barratt has also parlayed his speaking experience into opportunities to assist in staff development training at universities across the United States. He is scheduled to assist Indiana University-Bloomington train their residence life staff about social class and the issues that they'll confront in their roles. He'll also be assisting Butler University in training they will be providing for their counseling center interns.

His book, which was recently published by Stylus Publishing is a more comprehensive look at his research and seeks to help readers understand more about social class and the practical application it has to anyone's life. Additional information about the book may be found at

Photo: Barratt

Contact: Will Barratt, Indiana State University, associate professor of educational leadership, at 812-237-2869 or

Writer: Scott Campbell, Indiana State University, communications and marketing media assistant, at 237-3773.