Effective social justice practice in higher education : a qualitative study of experienced student affairs professionals Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/5d86p2197

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  • This thesis is a qualitative study of the social justice practice of experienced student affairs professionals employed in higher education. If we are to be truly supportive of all of our students, as is paramount in the values of student affairs professionals (Komives et al., 2003), systemic change is needed that fundamentally alters the values and practices of whole institutions. Thus, it is appropriate for student affairs professionals to become social justice advocates in the context of their duty to support students to the greatest extent possible. What, then, does it mean to be a social justice advocate, especially in the context of higher education? To research this question, five participants were identified who all had been employed in higher education for at least ten years, who self-identified as social justice advocates – people who are thoughtful about social justice issues and about integrating social justice into their careers – and who have been directly involved in resolving a crisis or conflict around difference or diversity on at least one occasion during the course of their career. Interviews were conducted with all participants. The data was analyzed using a variation of standard coding techniques (Creswell, 2005). From the data, I identified six themes, each with multiple sub-themes. These themes represented the overarching topics that participants mentioned during the course of the interviews. I also identified five categories of corresponding attributes and skills that were mentioned by participants that had been instrumental to their learning about and practice of social justice. While generalizable results were not the goal of this qualitative study, this thesis concludes with potential implications for individual’s learning about and practicing social justice, including graduate school preparation, and suggestions for further research.
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