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Roby Harrington

Roby Harrington

W.W. Norton and Company
Fellow, 2020-21 Study #16

Roby Harrington will be studying the causes and impact of the inequity in higher education today, and what can be done about it. Once an engine of social mobility, colleges and universities are now, because of the way they are structured, funded and staffed, more likely to reinforce the inequality that pervades our society than offer a path to the middle class. How did it come to this?

He is the vice chairman of W. W. Norton & Company, the largest independent publisher owned wholly by the employees, and for the past 25 years sat at the head of the editorial board of the higher education division.  His editorial interests focus on international relations, global ethics, and world religions. He commissioned a number of distinguished series including the Norton Global Ethics Series, Kwame Anthony Appiah, general editor, and the Issues of Our Time Series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., general editor. 

Over the last four decades of accelerating educational inequality, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by foundations to address this higher education crisis with little lasting impact. Combining his deep understanding of how quality disciplinary content is developed with a growing body of learning research identifying the most effective ways of supporting historically underserved students, and their adjunct professors, Harrington hopes to develop a new framework for producing content across the arts and sciences that is both supportive and rigorous.

For the last six years, Harrington was also chairman of the board of the Camphill Foundation which builds and supports innovative communities and programs for people with developmental disabilities, an experience he hopes to reflect on at CASBS.