Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Donna Schnorr


This study contributed to past research on civic-mindedness and social empathy by conducting a social justice-oriented participatory action research study at a research university with a predominately diverse student population. A participatory action research approach centers students' experiences as coresearchers, which complements the purpose of community and civic engagement, as they both support social transformation (Benjamin-Thomas et al., 2018).

This study encompasses four constructs to address how and why higher education can cultivate social change agents and invigorate civic engagement among today's college students. The constructs are civic-mindedness, social empathy, validation theory, and cocurricular cultural awareness workshop series. The coresearchers critiqued the Civic-Minded Graduate (CMG) (Steinberg et al., 2011) and Social Empathy (Segal, 2011) constructs and instruments through a social justice lens.

The study's findings further demonstrated that intentionally designed cocurricular programs with peer interactions allowed undergraduate students to learn through storytelling and develop a commitment to taking action (civic engagement). Additionally, the coresearchers recommended further research to verify if the CMG construct embraces a social justice perspective. The coresearchers also identified that surveys are not preferred methods to measure civic-mindedness and social empathy; they suggested focus groups or engaging dialogues.