Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Jayne Sommers, Sarah Noonan, Aura Wharton-Beck



Undergraduate college student activism has remained the essence and an integral part of intellectual development process in higher education since the inception of higher education institutions in the United States (Braungart & Braungart, 1990; Ellsworth & Burns, 1970/2009). Historically, students protested bad living conditions on their campuses and revolted for more freedom from the prevailing religious orthodoxy of the time (Ellsworth & Burns, 1970/2009). The historic relationship between college and student activism, though differently expressed throughout these years, revolved around mobilization of progressive forces for the purpose of seeking transformative changes in society. Through time, college students have become more politicized by the overall socio-economic and political power relations within the society outside of their campuses (Crossley, 2008). Literature reviews and scholarly publications around undergraduate college student activism in social justice leadership indicate the continuum that college students have embarked on changing the social disequilibrium as of their inquisitive and critical assessment of the social predicaments (Dominguez, 2009; Green, 2016). Although, organizing on higher education premises for social justice had been addressed, racial justice activism and the predicaments of the marginalized was not so distinctively addressed up until the 1960s Civils Rights era movements.

Therefore, this phenomenological case study intended to explore what informed undergraduate college student activism, particularly on the issue of racial justice by citing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement with a localized grassroot network tasked with building local power to lead resistance movements against the violence inflicted on Black citizens. An array of issues ranging from how higher education professionals cope with student protests on campus and the theoretical approaches identified and discussed key elements of college student intellectual development through civic engagement. The fact that college activism has been becoming an alternative platform of political engagement to the traditional party politics for undergraduate college students and students’ intellectual development in social justice leadership coupled with the changing dynamics of organizing on campus as a result of the cyber media platform demands more research for so that higher education professionals could have adequate awareness and a positive grip on the matters pertaining to student civic engagement.

Keywords: College, student, activism, protests, Higher education, social justice, social movements, leadership, BLM, racial justice, allyship, intellectual development. Politicizing effects.


Social justice, activism, student, campus activism, higher education, racial justice student development

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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