Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Finding our way through the house of mirrors: Higher education, administrative leadership, and social justice
by Diaz, Susanna M., Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2011, 284; 3483944
Abstract (Summary)

Leadership within higher education is currently limited in its capacity to address the needs of a diverse student population. Although diversity initiatives within higher education are growing, educational inequities among various social groups persist. This evidences a need to address issues of social justice within higher education and higher education administration. However, we have not sufficiently theorized nor documented leadership for social justice within higher education administration.

This qualitative study gives voice to leaders' conceptualizations and operationalization of social justice in higher education and higher education administration. The aim was to explore administrators' experiences of the nature, implementation, and negotiation of leadership for social justice within higher education institutions. This involved investigation into the meanings administrators attach to their work as well as their assessment of its impact. Using a two-stage process of in-depth interviews influenced by the tenets of phenomenology, I engaged in praxis with six administrative leaders to examine how they perceive and practice social justice.

I performed thematic analysis of data that yielded several themes within participant stories and seven meta-themes across participant stories. Meta-themes speak to participants' prioritization of social justice as well as the complicated nature of simultaneously enabling and challenging institutional systems. In addition, the communal nature of leadership for social justice and the necessity to gain a critical understanding of one's own positionality in relationship to issues of equity were emphasized within meta-themes. Leadership for social justice within higher education emerged as a multidimensional and ongoing process of community, administrator, and institutional transformation.

Research findings offer implications for the continued formation and evolution of leadership for social justice within higher education. Recommendations are provided for leadership preparation programs, administrative and institutional practice, and further research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dumas, Michael J.
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, Higher education
Keywords: Administrative leadership, Diversity, Equity, Higher education, Leadership, Social justice
Publication Number: 3483944
ISBN: 978-1-124-99342-3
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