Date of Award

Winter 1-15-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling & Psychology

First Advisor

Peiwei Li, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rakhshanda Saleem, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kiesha Warren-Gordon, Ph.D.


Community engagement programs are shaped by the educators who facilitate them. Due to a curtailed critical consciousness, such programs are not always sensitive to the negative implications for the communities they are attempting to support. Guided by critical ethnographic and interpretive phenomenological analysis, this study examines how educators perceive their relationship with critical consciousness, its impact on their community engagement initiatives, and what we can learn from educators using community engagement to work towards social justice issues. As expected, results from the participants revealed varying awareness and understanding of how structural power and institutional oppression impact community engagement initiatives. Some participants' experiences acknowledged the tensions between civic-mindedness and a sophisticated awareness of their role in a dominant power position. Nevertheless, educators with an awareness of systemic power did not always align their actions with these perspectives.Embedded within the socio-cultural and political hegemony, educators described how they navigate the competing interests of the school's administration, the community partners, and the students. These findings suggest that improving dialogue among educators, students, administrators, and community partners about the implications of structural power within community engagement work can decrease harm to the community. In doing so, educators can work towards developing their critical consciousness and the practices needed to continue moving toward community engagement education that prioritizes redistribution of power and amplifying the voices of community partners.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.



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