Where Harvard Meets the Homeless

Scott Seider has published a new book entitled Shelter: Where Harvard Meets the Homeless. It’s about a homeless shelter that is entirely managed and staffed by Harvard students.

Most of our work at CIRCLE concerns the civic engagement of people far different from those young leaders. We focus on the half of the population that does not attend college at all, let alone highly selective, private, four-year universities. But Seider’s topic is an important one because the kinds of people who gravitate to ambitious civic or political organizations at institutions like Harvard will soon run strategically important parts of our civil society and politics.

This generation is certainly different than their predecessors who would have flocked to Students for a Democratic Society and tried to block Robert McNamara from leaving campus. Today’s Ivy League undergraduates are more entrepreneurial, probably better organized, possibly more thoughtful, but lacking a comprehensive theory of how to change society.

As I wrote in my blurb, “Scott Seider’s rich and insightful study of Harvard students who run a homeless shelter provides an informative portrait of today’s young leaders and their struggle to understand and confront injustice.”

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