Yakaboski, Tamara

Committee Member

Birnbaum, Matthew

Committee Member

Talbot, Chris

Committee Member

Boyce, Travis


Department of Leadership, Policy, and Development: Higher Education and P-12 Education Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



205 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This dissertation seeks to explore and discovers how the social justice and inclusion competency set forth by American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) in 2015 is achieved in student affairs master’s programs. The idea of an individual being able to achieve competency in social justice and inclusion is problematized. A competency-based approach sets up social justice and inclusion as an attainable skill set instead of an ongoing and lifelong approach of challenge injustice with and for minoritized communities. The literature review provides an overview of the development of student affairs. The overview of the evolution of student affairs is discussed beginning in the idealist years, through the diversification and shifting idealism years, to realism and the seed years of student affairs, followed by pragmatist thought and student development, to the continuation of pragmatism to present day. A pragmatist and postmodern perspective with a content analysis method is used to respond to the research questions. The research questions were, how do master’s level graduate preparation programs in student affairs communicate social justice and inclusion in curriculum and how are the competencies of social justice and inclusion conveyed in required coursework? Through the collection and analysis of 49 syllabi from faculty and program directors across 21 institutions in the U.S. who identified syllabi as having a social justice and inclusion focus, this dissertation analyzed syllabi course titles, learning outcomes, and required coursework/assignments. Using content analysis, the findings represent how course titles communicated the value of social justice and inclusion within master’s programs. The analysis of syllabi learning outcomes reveled four themes including: (a) the top seven, a common set of words found in the analyzed syllabi including and in no particular order, multicultural, diversity, equity, inclusion, culture, role of social justice, and oppression; (b) the development of self, (c) student development, and (d) the development of student affairs and counseling. Using an active learning framework, the analysis of required coursework of the syllabi brought to light two themes, uninvolved and involved, which spoke to how coursework was completed. These findings are significant to the field of student affairs as they provide a snapshot on social justice and inclusion in the classroom. From my findings three key implications were identified, (a) the 49 syllabi represented primarily followed a metanarrative of keeping SJI as a process and a goal grounded in self-awareness; (b) findings represented that course titles did not represent SJI and learning outcomes focused primarily on a grouping of concepts to represent an SJI approach; (c) assignments did not have an emphasis on experience. This dissertation concludes with recommendations for graduate students, student affairs professions (both faculty and staff), and the field of student affairs to move away from a competency approach of social justice and inclusion towards an approach of social justice and inclusion as a process, goal, vision and, education as analysis and action.

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