Date of Award

12-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Administration

First Advisor

Hytten, Kathy

Abstract

In this study, I explored critical approaches to social justice in student affairs. I sought to understand how student affairs administrators understand and communicate about social justice. Furthermore, I studied how a critical paradigm informs the work of student affairs practitioners in their everyday lives, and what we might learn from the experiences of professionals who ground their work in such paradigms. This was a qualitative study, in which I used snowball sampling as the method for recruiting participants. I conducted semi structured interviews with 14 full time student affairs administrators, who I refer to as critically-oriented student affairs administrators. Consistent with critical theory, I employ a language of critique and a language of possibility in this dissertation. The findings in this study suggest that there is much work to be done in more productively addressing social justice in student affairs. The lived experiences the participants in this study shared provide insight into living out critical commitments to social justice in the student affairs field. Furthermore, there is space in the student affairs field for more in-depth analysis and consideration for what it means to be "critical" in the student affairs profession.

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