Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Nancy J. Evans

Second Advisor

Niki E. Davis

Third Advisor

Frankie S. Laanan


The purpose of this participatory action research (PAR) project was to investigate and deconstruct white racial privilege as one step toward developing an anti-racist professional identity for white students in a student affairs graduate preparation program at a predominantly white university.;This qualitative study used the approach of PAR, influenced by a critical, emancipatory perspective. Five participants came together for a 30-hour group process that was both dialogical and experiential. Each group member was interviewed before and after the group process, and the transcripts of the interviews and group process formed the core of the data that was generated. Participants also wrote personal reflections in between the PAR group sessions and these reflective writings were analyzed as part of the data. Finally, as an evaluation component and as a method to triangulate data, each participant completed the White Privilege Attitude Scale (WPAS) (Pinterits, 2004) at the beginning and end of the PAR group process.;Several significant moments or categories emerged from an analysis of the PAR group process transcripts. The all-white constitution of the group and the engaged and democratic framework of PAR facilitated the formation of a cohesive dialogue marked by authenticity and trust among the members. The group participated in a series of experiential activities that helped them apprehend the construct of white privilege and begin to problematize its presence in their lives. The group worked through typical responses to white privilege awareness, such as guilt, stuckness, and resistance, and emerged with several critical, action-oriented strategies to contest privilege within their own spheres. They identified barriers to their own willingness to confront privilege and generated personal action plans to deconstruct white privilege.;The core finding of this research project was that all-white anti-racism encounter groups, especially when they are embedded within an engaged, decolonizing methodology such as PAR, can facilitate white privilege awareness among graduate students in a student affairs preparation program. This research study has implications for those who engage in social movements around issues of race, racism, and racial privilege.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Jeffrey Edward Cullen



Proquest ID


OCLC Number




File Format


File Size

226 pages