Date of Dissertation

5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Department

Social Work

Abstract

This banded dissertation consists of three sections which provide a social work perspective on the impact of microaggressions on racial identity for students of color (SOC) in a predominantly white institution (PWI). The dissertation suggests a developmental paradigm for social work educators to increase student understanding of systemic racial oppression and support for the development of cultural humility. Critical race theory provides a framework to analyze inequities in higher education and a guide to the creation of inclusive learning environments.

Effective engagement in diversity assumes students understand the role of privilege and marginalization and how each contributes to one’s life experiences. The first section of the banded dissertation is a conceptual paper that integrates concepts derived from Critical Race Theory and provides a developmental paradigm for social work educators to teach and support anti-racist social work practice.

Critical Race Theory also provides the framework for second section of the banded dissertation, an exploratory, qualitative study. Study participants included thirty-one, SOC who attended a mid-sized, Midwestern, faith-based, PWI for at least one year. Respondents completed individual or focus group interviews which explored the impact of racial stress on student development, adaptive responses, and what recommendations SOC have for greater inclusiveness in spiritual life within the institution.

The third section of the banded dissertation is an overview of a peer-reviewed workshop. This workshop introduced a conceptual framework to engage professional social work educators in conversation and collaboration regarding teaching issues of race, privilege, and oppression. This workshop integrated concepts from Critical Race Theory and will assisted in further development of an anti-racist, developmental model for social work educators.

The data from this banded dissertation are consistent with studies on campus climate as well studies on the impact on racial microaggressions on SOC in higher education. However, this banded dissertation adds to the existing literature through examination of the impact of racial stress on spiritual development; evaluation of how experiences with racism have contributed to adaptive responses; and, recommendations from study participants as to how the institution can better support spiritual development and greater inclusiveness for SOC.

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