Date of Award
Doctor of Education (Ded)
Professional Studies in Education
George Bieger, Ph.D.
Patricia S. Smeaton, Ed.D.
Douglas Lare, Ed.D.
Christopher Brooks, D.Phil.
Leaders in higher education understand that exposure to diversity in America’s colleges and universities is essential to the preparation of all students to live and work within culturally diverse contexts post-graduation. However, White males in colleges and universities are least likely to engage with diversity in college (Cabrera, 2014) and often resist social justice education experiences (Boatright-Horowitz & Soeung, 2009; Mildred & Zúñiga, 2004; Watt, 2007; Whitehead & Wittig, 2004). This phenomenological study contributes knowledge to the fields of educational leadership, multicultural education and student affairs administration about White men in highly selective colleges who voluntarily engage with diversity and co-curricular social justice education opportunities. The researcher employed purposive sampling to identify 14 White men within four private, highly selective, Northeastern colleges and universities who met the selection criteria. After conducting 60-90 minute semi-structured interviews with each participant, the data were coded and re-coded to identify key themes in response to three research questions: what pre-college factors do White men associate with their diversity engagement; what college experiences support their continued ally development; and how do they make meaning of their ally development? The data revealed three primary pre-college factors: personal or vicarious marginalization, diversity exposure and intellectual curiosity. There were three dominant categories of college experiences: campus climate issues, social interaction with diverse peers, and intellectual stimuli. Finally, their meaning making processes centered around three main ideas: the definition of White maleness, self-definition, and social justice ally motivation. This study provides recommendations to help leaders in higher education more intentionally and effectively support White males in developing ally behaviors, ultimately benefitting the larger society.
McKnight, John F. Jr., "Brothers in the Struggle: A Phenomenological Study of White Male College Student Development as Social Justice Allies" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 1327.