Updated Prospectus for ACPA Paper Presentation

Please note this is a draft of my prospectus and is a mere reflection of what my final work will be.

Exploring the effect of addressing social injustices
Laura Bestler
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa
March 8, 2010
Updated Prospectus for ACPA Paper Presentation

The sidewalks were strewn with hate as the October morning sun shattered through the clouds. Hate-filled words in chalk exclaimed violence against lesbians and gays on my undergraduate campus. Obscene phrases like “Get a gun and shoot them,” “Kill the fags,” and “Gays must die” were sketched hastily over the 10% Society’s (a lesbian and gay student organization) National Coming Out Day celebratory words.
From 1987-1992, my undergraduate campus was my home away from home and my friends and I were violated by these hurtful phrases chalked on the cold concrete sidewalks.  This verbal violence became a significant event prompting my personal journey towards social justice. It would not be the first time I would feel frustration about biased actions on a campus.

I was, at that time, an over-involved undergraduate student leader at a Midwestern public institution of higher learning. Campus was close to home and my new found family included both students and student affairs staffers. Those staff members (parental in their actions) helped me as I worked through my personal frustrations with these hateful words and actions. Each staff member played a significant role in guiding me by providing me with opportunities and challenges. My respect for the wisdom they shared with me is still an integral part of my ethical palette of practice. Little did I know at the time that one of these advisers would introduce me to a profession in which I would be involved over a decade. I failed to recognize then that they may have experienced a multitude of unique emotions while helping me, the student, as I coped with my angst.

Student affairs professionals are a part of a university’s power structure and are uniquely positioned to advocate for students within constructs of the centuries-old higher education systems of practice (Chang, 2002). Because of this power structure, the role of the student affairs staff member may be rich with diverse experiences and complexities from the informal out-of-classroom interactions between students and student affairs professionals.
Higher education, as we know it in the United States, was built upon Eurocentric roots tied to a hierarchal system within the colonial foundation of higher education (Altbach, 2001). The current system continues to privilege the White Euro-American heterosexual Christian student population, and has not yet adapted to a steadily diversifying student body (Chang, 2002). The Eurocentric perspective is considered the universal truth; as such, it fails to take into account the plurality of cultures or a world of multiculturalism (Jung, 2009). As a student affairs professionals I was often stretched between policy, people, and purpose while working towards creating an equitable campus environment. I refused to lose focus on the needs of students, and the incessant political and social pressures took a toll on me, both professionally and personally.

Social justice is a process and a goal (Bell, 1997). The social justice discourse presently taking place on college campuses is a multifaceted transformational opportunity for people, institutions, community, and society as a whole. Practitioners strive to include appreciating viewpoints and social responsibility for all, equity in procedural systems, access to and sharing of resources, and a feeling of being safe and protected (Goodman, 2001; Reason, Broido, Davis, & Evans, 2005). While the slow transformation of college campuses to adapt to their students’ diverse needs may be providing a unique opportunity to hone more equitable experience, the old power structures continue to test even the most seasoned staff in providing a safe campus environment (Chang, 2002). Currently, there is a lack of information available about how student affairs professionals working towards social justice are affected personally and professionally by their experiences.

Student affairs professionals cannot be fully prepared for the multiple roles they have to juggle in their efforts to create an equitable and conducive living and learning environment for their diverse student population. They are held accountable for supporting the current policies, procedures and programs, while adapting to the myriad new demands on campus with continually decreasing resources.

University and college student affairs professionals interact with students through programs, orientation, student organizations, recreation centers, peer training, and on-campus living. These student affairs professionals may advocate (directly or indirectly) for students confronted by social injustices that directly (or indirectly) impact students and their community of fellow students. Supporting campus policies while advocating for students requires a tenuous balance for many student affairs staff even in the most homogeneous environments. The balance between following campus protocols, and being supportive employees, while maintaining a healthy working relationship with students. Maintaining this balance may put pressure on some of the student affairs personnel’s personal and professional lives while maintaining working relationships with students.

During my training to be a student affairs professional and subsequent career experience I was not taught how to handle difficult situations involving unjust treatment of people on campus. Instead, there seemed to be an expectation that I would just “know” how to cope with these challenges during my 13 years as a student affairs professional. I did not understand the extent to which helping students would impact my personal well-being. There is a dearth of information regarding how student affairs professionals can oftentimes be affected by their experiences of working towards an equitable campus, while simultaneously fulfilling their job responsibilities and maintaining a healthy personal life. Figley (2002) defined compassion stress as, “resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized person” (2002, p. xiv). Identifying the cost of caring as a personal issue and identifying how to cope with this symptomatic characteristic of compassion fatigue presents a difficult challenge for professionals (Figley 1995a, 1995b, 2002), and it was a difficult challenge for me.

The purpose of this autoethnographic study is to explore my personal knowledge of social injustices on a university campus by sharing stories that affected me personally and professionally. As subject and researcher, I will illustrate my personal story of vicarious injustices and oppression of students during my twenty year transformation from undergraduate student to student affairs professional.

Research Questions

My personal analysis of my experiences as a student affairs professional commitment towards eradicating social injustices will explore the following:

  • Upon reflection, how did I respond to social injustices and oppression of students on campus?
  • What hurdles did I face in striving to cultivate an equitable campus environment?
  • What effects did working to address social injustice in higher education have on me, both professionally and holistically?

Theoretical Perspectives

Transformative learning theory will provide a framework within which I will study the effects of social injustices as a student affairs professional. In transformative learning, one may develop the ability to evolve to new levels by reflecting on one’s personal experiences with unjust situations (Mezirow, 2000). Therefore, transformative learning involves an experience in which deep learning takes place, identified by a basic metamorphosis in ways of thinking, concepts, and feelings that results in a rudimentary shift in an individual’s understanding of oneself in relationship to others (Mezirow, 1990). Transformation is defined as a significant change that usually leads to an improvement. In the context of compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995a, 1995b, 2002) and empathic distress (Hoffman, 1978, 1989, 2000) I will be able to construct my transformative learning (Kegan, 2000) from a collegiate undergraduate to a student affairs professional in relation to social injustices.

Student affairs professionals, because of the nature of their position with students, may experience a degree of compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995a, 1995b, 2002) simply from learning about social injustices towards a student. These occurrences may interrupt the ability of student affairs professionals to cope with challenges surrounding social injustices on a campus, blocking the ability to perform their respective duties and interrupting their personal lives (Figley, 1995a, 1995b, 2002). The context in which the staff come to know about these social injustices may inform the development of systematic structures, policies, and practices that occur on campus (Mezirow, 2000). Thus, the importance of constructing an understanding of the relationships among student affairs staff members, symptoms of compassion fatigue and students’ social injustices will be “meaning-forming, the activity by which we shape coherent meaning out of the raw material of our outer and inner experiences” (Kegan, 2000, p. 52).

My epistemological framework for this autoethnography will be constructionism. I will be gaining knowledge by constructing meaning via stories (Crotty, 2003). I will be sharing stories about my transformation from a collegiate student leader to a student affairs professional and how social injustices affected me professional and personally.

It is an inviting prospect to create disorder by utilizing knowledge to move the world (Denzin & Lincoln, 2008). Through autoethnography, I will study the culture of student affairs, social injustices, and myself within the culture of higher education. This reflection upon my experiences will place me within the social context I left in 2006. It will present a clearer understanding of my student affairs experiences and the impact of culture on the decisions I made during my tenure and my stories and memories will reconstruct my past self.

Storytelling will give voice and, potentially, a way for me to heal or celebrate experiences with injustice (Berger & Qunney, 2005; Kovach, 2005). My authentic voice will be expressed as “these are my experiences that I chose to share with you” (Ellis & Bochner, 2002, p. 15). I will illustrate my knowledge of social injustices on a university campus, and how these experiences affected me personally and professionally.

Significance of Study

The intention of this study will be to share my personal journey as a student affairs staff member, and my personal and professional transformation resulted from advocating for social justice within the field of higher education. I will explore potential relationships among empathic distress, compassion fatigue, and my work a student affairs professional. Telling my story will offer insights for others about coping with emotional strains while taking care of oneself.


As a student affairs professional, it is my hope that critically reflecting upon experiences of social injustice will give a voice to personal beliefs, provide a new dimension of knowledge, and enrich meaning-forming through self-awareness (Kegan, 2000; Mezirow, 2000). I will hope to strengthen other student affairs colleagues and incoming new student affairs professionals to develop healthy characteristics, and to enhance campus communities by creating a sustainable climate for social justice to flourish (Figley, 2002).

Not during my academic graduate coursework nor my in-service student affairs professional training was I ever taught about how to cope with what happens to others with respect to social injustices. Instead, I was expected to just know how to cope with the incidents. Because of the complications I faced, and will face, I believe that learning how to cope with compassion fatigue and secondary trauma is important in the field of student affairs. Not only are student affairs staff members faced with daily challenges all professionals experience, they are confronted by crises and social injustice incidents that directly impact our students and community.
Graduate programs could better prepare incoming professionals by helping them to gain an understanding of how working towards social justice could affect a student affairs professional’s daily life (Reason, et al., 2005). According to Freire (1970), “In problem-posing education, people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves; they come to see the world not as a static reality, but as a reality in process, in transformation” (p. 83). Ultimately, this study has the potential to foster the viability of social justice work (Mezirow, 1990).


As an autoethnography, the use of myself as the primary source of data may be questioned (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994; Sparkes, 2000). The study will be limited to my knowledge related to my career in student affairs. The most seasoned researcher may claim my design will lack rigor (Lincoln & Denzin, 1994) because I choose to tell my own story. Autoethnography is often discredited with claims of narcissism (Coffey, 1999). Rather, the utilization of autoethnography will demonstrate a deeper systematic self-reflection upon my personal journey to yield ultimately a life account of transformative learning theory (Kegan, 2000; Mezirow, 2000).
I recognize the extent to which I will open myself to criticism and indifference with respect to my story; in a parallel manner, this journey will illustrate the barriers my students and I experienced on campus. My autoethnography will have limitations. I potentially could leave out some stories that may have more meaning to the audience than those I share. My perspective will be among multiple potential perspectives. Instead of going into detail and depth, I may only highlight a story. I may not always remember the celebratory moments, and dwell on the disheartening events or disappointing outcomes. I do recognize that there may be some things I may be unable to explain, not even for myself, out of, for example self-preservation. However, I intend to focus on the hope I have that my story and research will provide inspiration.


Because this study will only involve myself, it will challenge the norms of scholarly discourse (Ellis & Bochner, 2000). My primary focus will be to provide the audience with my autobiographical story, which “displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural” (Ellis & Bochner, 2000, p. 739).

For the benefit of this autoethnographic study, the following definitions will apply:
Autoethnography: A highly personalized genre of writing and research where the author uses personal experience to extend understanding of a particular sociocultural context (Chang, 2008; Ellis & Bochner, 2000).
Compassion fatigue: Compassion fatigue is the intuitive actions and emotions resulting from knowing or learning about a person’s experiencing a secondary response to an unjust or traumatic event, and the connections between caring for the individual, and little for oneself (Figley, 1995, 2002).
Eurocentric: is considered the universal truth which fails to take into account the plurality of cultures or a world of multiculturalism (Jung, 2009).
Social justice: strives to include appreciating viewpoints and social responsibility of all, equity in procedural systems, access to and sharing of resources, and a feeling of being safe and protected (Goodman, 2001; Reason, et al., 2005).
Transformative learning: “The process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning perspectives, habits of mind, mind-sets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide action” (Mezirow, 2000, p. 8).
Ultimately, I believe that my autoethnography will provide an introduction to an authentic and comprehensive discourse concerning diversity, as well as the often overwhelming demands of being a professional working in this area (Chang, 2002). Reading my story may illuminate the importance of teaching each other how to cope with emotional dilemmas along with taking care of oneself. As Clandinin and Connelly (2000) stated, “Telling stories of ourselves in the past leads to the possibility of retellings” (p. 60).

This chapter will examine literature focusing on social justice in higher education, transformative learning, empathic distress, and compassion fatigue as it relates to student affairs professionals and to autoethnography. The overarching design of this study will be to tell my story of being a student affairs professional, and how promoting social justice on campus affected my life. As I am both the subject and the researcher, I will choose to focus on these perspectives to best support my study and chosen methodology of autoethnography.

Social Justice
Social justice is action, and not just words in a policy or a recruitment brochure. Social justice encourages an equitable environment free from power, privilege, and oppressive policies and practices (Chang, 2002; Johnson, 2004; King & Baxter Magolda, 2005; Reason et al., 2005). To create a just environment, the transformation must begin within oneself. “Diverse leaders can challenge the dominant discourse that marginalizes diversity in higher education, making it powerless as a social force and change agent in society and higher education” (Practicing Diversity Leadership in Higher Education, 2006, p. 86). To promote a just campus, student affairs staff will play a pivotal role in shaping the climate. “Student affairs professionals, especially those at upper levels of the administration, have some level of power that students do not share” (Broido & Reason, 2005, p. 25).

Each person plays an integral role within the college’s or university’s power structures. Because of the core relationship connecting student affairs staff with students (Evans and Reason, 2001), finding the appropriate balance between power, position, personal lives, and policies will be essential for a healthy life balance (Manning, 2007). Primarily, staff members have the opportunity to shape and cultivate a campus into an equitable environment (Bell, 1997). Campus institutional transformations would begin with individuals promoting social justice; however, professionals meeting resistance may experience symptoms of compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995a, 1995b) and empathic distress (Hoffman, 2000). Some of the barriers experiences may be comprised of the following, “relationships maintained between people, bureaucratic procedures, structural arrangements, institutional goals and values, traditions, and the larger sociohistorical environments where they are located” (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pederson, & Allen, 1999, p. 69). The change towards an equitable environment on campus will only occur when an authentic and comprehensive discourse occurs concerning diversity takes place (Chang, 2002).

Transformative Learning Theory
I will be employing Mezirow’s (2000) transformative learning theory as a autoethnographic framework to guide my learning about self, students, colleagues, and the campus community. Reason et al. (2005) affirmed, “Teaching others about power, privilege, oppression, and the actions to counteract them requires a thorough understanding of the role these constructs play in one’s own daily life” (p. 82). My highly personal story will serve as a foundation for an “equity mindset” (Love & Estanek, 2004, p. 211) by building upon the dimensions of knowing, understanding of oneself, and creating a more inclusive campus environment. Mezirow (2000) stated,

The justification for much of what we know and believe, our values and our feelings, depends on the context – biographical, historical, cultural – in which they are embedded. We make meaning with different dimensions of awareness and understanding; in adulthood we may more clearly understand our experience when we know under what conditions an expressed idea is true or justified. (p. 4)

The opportunity to critically reflect on my experiences will give a voice to personal beliefs, provide a new dimension of knowledge, and enrich meaning-forming through self-awareness (Kegan, 2000; Mezirow, 2000). Although recalling some of these events will be draining it is important to reflect upon them in order to strengthen myself while developing healthy characteristics to enhance a campus community (Figley, 2002). How I will position myself with regard to social justice will inform how I can further transform myself and the community through this autoethnography. To begin my transformative learning journal I will need to understand my own experiences within social justice.

Compassion Fatigue

Student affairs professionals who serve as the first contact for students are often called to respond to student and campus incidents of social injustice, or discuss the incident with the students, they may be negatively affected by their contact with these events. Although staff may feel a positive effect associated with their ability to help, they may experience secondary negative effects, called compassion fatigue (Figley, 2002). Compassion fatigue is the intuitive actions and emotions resulting from knowing or learning about a person’s experiencing a secondary response to an unjust or traumatic event, and the connections between caring for the individual, and little for oneself (Figley, 1995a, 1995b, 2002). Professionals who have a wide-range of responsibilities and working in an overtaxed environment may experience these characteristics in more advanced stages. Figley (2002) proposed that the combined effects of the continuous barriers faced by professionals and stories of injustices and trauma can create a condition progressively debilitating the caregiver that he has called “compassion stress.” There is limited information available in regards to how student affairs professionals cope with stress factors created from coping with social injustices. According to Figley’s (1995a) secondary traumatic stress (STS) theory, “People can be traumatized without actually being physically harmed or threatened with harm.  They can be traumatized simply by learning about the traumatic event” (p. 4). 

Figley (1995a) defined secondary traumatic stress (STS) as, “consequent behaviors and emotions resulting from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other – the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person” (p. 7). Figley (2002) explained, “repeated exposure among workers, the lack of recognition, and the failure to treat secondary stress contribute to burnout (as cited in Herbison, Rando, & Plante, 1984; Maslach, 1978)” (p. 53). Whether an incident is violence against oneself, or others, a hate crime, social injustices, natural disaster, or terrorist attack it is in the best interest of student affairs professionals to learn about compassion fatigue and how to support themselves through appropriate training and understanding.
While professionals may be able to cope with the stressors involved in overcoming various social justice barriers, one may not be able to sustain themselves without intentional concern for a healthy life balance (Gentry, 2002). Most importantly, Gentry (2002) encouraged, “Making best use of available resources to establish respite and sanctuary for ourselves, even in the most abject of circumstances, can have an enormous effect in minimizing our symptoms and maximizing our sustained effectiveness” (p. 47). While I may not have found my life balance while active as a professional, I continue to strive for it. I hope this autoethnography will provide me an additional opportunity to critically reflect and engage others as readers.

Hoffman’s Theory of Empathic Distress
Elements of compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995a, 1995b, 2002) which me be experienced by student affairs professionals could be attributed to empathic distress (Hoffman, 2000). Empathic distress exceeds the respective situation and eventually matures to empathic distress regarding whole groups who may exploited, oppressed, or otherwise treated unfairly (Hoffman, 2000). The prosocial behavior theory is multifaceted, ranging from classical conditioning to principles of justice charged with empathic affect (Hoffman, 2000, p. 25). The forms of empathic distress may occur both locally and globally; intermittently with groups in times long past; and beyond familiarity, and when empathizing with other ethnic groups, races, or species (Hoffman, 2000, p. 80). While maintaining institutional protocols student affairs professionals may confront social injustices and their experiences could contradict their personal moral structures, behavioral norms, rules, sense of right and wrong, images of hate, and associated self-blame and guilt (Hoffman, 2000).

One of the challenges when coping with empathic distress is over-arousal, “an involuntary process that occurs when an observer’s empathic distress becomes so painful and intolerable that it is transformed into an intense feeling of personal distress, which may move the person out of the empathic mode entirely” (Hoffman, 2000, p. 54). Empathic distress may be gauged on an action continuum with one end of the continuum as “individualistic or me-oriented with self-interest” and “selfish concern,” the mid-point described as, “relational view of self-interest with a benefits for both you and me,” and finally, “interdependent perspective has a greater relational view between you and me to see ‘us’” (Goodman, 2000, p. 1074). Hoffman (2000) explained self-focused role-taking as, “When people observe someone in distress they may imagine how they would feel in the same situation. If they can do this vividly enough, they may experience some of the same affect experienced by the victim” (p. 54). Helping others to achieve a common goal may have a cost. For example, “bystanders may have learned from experience that helping makes one feel good, but the prospect of feeling good may be overridden by helping’s potential cost” (Hoffman, 2000, p. 34). Most appropriately, having a deeper knowledge of Hoffman’s (1978, 1989, 2000) theory can hopefully inform the readers of this dissertation on how to manage their own feelings with respect to social injustices.


How did autoethnography become my primary methodology? This methodological transformation occurred when a colleague in my dissertation course asked, “What is it about Hoffman’s (2000) theory that gets you excited about your research?” I replied, “It is finally something I personally can relate to with respect to my experiences within the field of student affairs.” The professor, who was facilitating the class said, “Have you considered doing an autoethnography?” I explained, “It had crossed my mind; yet, I have always thought it was a cop-out.” Another colleague said, “I would definitely read your story based upon our previous discussions.” I sat astonished. The professor eloquently stated, “Anyone can write a dissertation, it is how well you write it that truly matters.” By utilizing my story as the data within the autoethnography, I will affirm the noteworthiness of my self-narrative within the research versus making claims for the research to stand by its own accord.

Autoethnography is “a form of self-narrative that places the self within a social context” (Reed-Danahay, 1997, p. 7). Reed-Danahay (1997) explained autoethnography as a writing practice consisting of highly analytical, personalized account drawing extensively from personal experiences to broaden knowledge of a particular way of life, discipline, or phenomenon. It is a style of research that maintains that writing about and through oneself can be done in a scholarly manner (Ellis, 2004; Ellis & Bochner, 2000). Autoethnographies are generally written in first person, and the researcher uses lived experiences reflexively as a means of looking in-depth at the interactions between self and others (Ellis, 2004). This autoethnography will reflect my life experience by connecting me as a researcher with the cultural contexts existing in higher education (Holt, 2003).

Introspectively, I am seeking to find those people who are like me, and professionals with whom I can share my experiences in order to guide them through both their difficult and their celebratory times. Due to its strong association with sociology and ethnography, autoethnography can also be claimed as “an autobiographical genre of writing and research that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to cultural” (Ellis & Bochner, 2000, p. 739).
This study will build upon my personal accounts as a student affairs professional. Utilizing autoethnography will give me the ability to write myself into the studied culture of student affairs, and my unique connection to societal issues. This process will be deeply introspective and overwhelming as I reflect my role in the oppressive environment, and my entrenchment within the student affairs culture. These personal narratives will be written as critical reflection; using my vulnerability, personal feelings, and emotions as a form of knowledge-sharing and as vivid illustrations of cultural phenomenon to explore and portray “feelings,” “motives,” and “contradictions” (Ellis & Bochner, 2000, p. 738).

With myself as the writer and performer, the reader will become the audience. This collaborative relationship will provide a foundation to heal, celebrate, and inform about the social injustices in higher education. The possibility to become a part of the story by engaging in the story line morally, emotionally, aesthetically, and intellectually, are all benefits of autoethnographical studies (Ellis & Bochner, 2000). Reading this dissertation will provide an opportunity for readers to view a student affairs professional experience within the higher education’s systems.

Data Collection Procedures
I will utilize Feldman’s (2003) criteria for data collection by providing a detailed description of the collection, data construction and representation, exploration of other ways to represent this study, and demonstration of how the evidence transformed me as an educator. My primary data sources of artifacts will include personal blog entries, email correspondence, newspaper articles, and personal reflections.

Ethical Considerations
An ethical challenge will be that my professional experience is limited to only a few institutions and higher education associations. To minimize anonymity, I will utilize aliases for all students, colleagues, associations, and institutions (Crotty, 2003).

Data Analysis
The exploration of data in autoethnography will involve a method where I will emotionally reflect upon past events within my experience as a student affairs professional (Ellis & Bochner, 2000). The researcher looks back on specific, memorable episodes and experiences, paying particular attention to the emotions and physical surroundings during the recollection. Emotional recall is expressed through writing that includes thoughts, events, dialogue, and physical details of the particular event. A unique aspect of a qualitative study is the ability of the researcher to let the data emerge as the research and writing is progressing.
In the initial phases of my study it will not always be clear what distinctive themes will emerge. As noted by Janesick (2002), “the qualitative researcher uses inductive analysis, which means that categories, themes, and patterns come from the data. The categories that emerge from field notes, documents and interviews are not imposed prior to data collection” (p. 389).

I will use the research questions to guide my personal constructions of data, and I will place heavy emphasis on each of the following issues as my study unfolds. As I write my dissertation, these questions will be consistently a part of my thought processes:

  • Upon reflection, how did I respond to social injustices and oppression of students on campus?
  • What hurdles did I face in striving to cultivate an equitable campus environment?
  • What effects did working to address social injustice in higher education have on me, both professionally and holistically?

Design Issues
Significant personal and observed experiences will become richer as I develop my voice through storytelling (Clandinin & Conelly, 2000). In order to stay true to my story, it will be important to not censor even the failures I experienced professionally as a student affairs staff member. It will also be a disservice to not discuss how my personal life may have been altered through the obstacles I face professionally.

The intention of this dissertation is to inspire a dialogue about how student affairs professionals can cultivate social justice while maintaining a rewarding professional experience, and healthy personal life. My self-study will offer a platform for readers to construct their own knowledge for meaning-making through a reflective process (Belenky & Stanton, 2000). his story will only be the beginning as it will encourage readers to reflect upon their own experiences with social injustices (Clandinin & Conelly, 2000). Ultimately, discourse through actions will guide people to find a way of knowing (Freire, 1970; Greene, 1988).


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Additional 615H Documentation

Proposed Dissertation Outline
Enumeration and description of chapters
The dissertation will be divided five chapters.
Chapter 1: Overview This introductory chapter frames my study

  • Introduction
  • Problem
  • Purpose
  • Research Questions
  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • Methodology
  • Significance of Study
  • Implications
  • Limitations
  • Delimitations
  • Definitions
  • Summary of Overview

Chapter 2: Literature Review

  • Social Justice
  • Transformative Learning Theory
  • Compassion Fatigue
  • Hoffman’s Theory of Empathic Distress

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

  • Philosophical Assumptions
  • Data Collection Procedures
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Data Analysis
  • Design Issues

Chapter 4: Personal Narrative
I will provide a description of the subculture studied through my personal narrative and examine my role and activities as a student affairs professional interacting with students who experienced social injustices on a campus.

Chapter 5: Findings, Recommendations, Concluding Remarks
I will review my story and provide an analysis of the research questions that guided this study, through a researcher’s summary, conclusions, and self-reflections are examined