Phenomenology of Social Justice on Leadership Development of Marginalized College Students

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Although the body of research on social justice in educational or service-related contexts is growing, knowledge regarding the phenomenology of social justice impact on college student leadership development remains limited. The purpose of the qualitative phenomenological study was to describe and understand the lived experiences, context, and perceived impact of how social justice leadership, advocacy, and work influence the leadership development of marginalized college student leaders. The research questions focused on understanding the influence and impact of social justice on leadership development of marginalized college students. A combination of social justice leadership theory and college student development theories was the theoretical framework used to guide the study. Sixteen participants were involved in the study, responding to open-ended questionnaires, submitting documents listing leadership and social justice work, and participating in semistructured interviews, to provide information on the lived experiences of marginalized college student leaders. After downloading the questionnaire results, renaming the submitted documents, and recording and transcribing the interviews, inductive thematic, constant comparison, and classical content analyses were used to identify the following themes: advocacy, Black, community, learning, mentorship, and organizing. The results of the study highlighted the unique lived experiences and perceptions with social justice leadership as academic, personal, and student leadership-related, and caused changes in leadership behavior and/or leadership perspectives described as highly meaningful and valuable. Stakeholders can use the results of the study to improve college student leadership development using social justice leadership.
Leadership Development, Marginalized College Student Leaders