Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

Katalin Szelényi

Second Advisor

Tara Parker

Third Advisor

Gerardo Blanco


Despite efforts of faculty in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) programs focused on social justice/Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to provide equitable educational experiences for their students, studies on these programs have shown that students of color continue to face racialized experiences in the classroom (Harris & Linder, 2018; Linder et al., 2015). This dissertation employed a multiple case study to examine two HESA master's programs with a specific social justice/DEI mission and integrated the voices of both faculty and students. Using intensive interviewing, document analysis, and class observations, the goal of this study centered on understanding the extent to which faculty and students in these programs perceived the centrality of racial justice as an integral component of their espoused commitments to deliver tangible practices and experiences connected with the realization of the mission. The conceptual foundations of this study were informed by Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Harper’s (2009) question-based Anti-Deficit Achievement framework for Studying students of color in STEM. The results of the study provide a nuanced and practical framework to understand classroom dynamics, effective anti-racist practices, and faculty and student engagement around topics of race and racism. Recommendations for programmatic practices include the formalization of communities of practice among faculty to align their practices with the program’s social justice/DEI commitments. Pedagogical implications include the interrogation and disruption of oppressive and normalized academic practices and the need to pay more attention to pedagogical training for faculty and approaches to address classroom dynamics.