Date of Award

Fall 11-23-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education

First Advisor

Rebecca Michel

Second Advisor

Leodis Scott

Third Advisor

Kimberly Everett


Activism is occurring in an increased manner with Generation Z college students and the greater society. The definition of activism is an evolving one and unsettled in literature. It is often confused with similar terms like Civic Engagement. In addition, the methods of how an activist networks and forms their group in a period of increased social media and online communication warranted investigation. Finally, an exploration of the modern relationship of college student activists to higher education, especially student perceptions of how activism is supported and hindered. This qualitative study using Grounded Theory and principles of Critical Research interviewed nine college students to understand: (1) their definition of activism, (2) activist activities engaged in by the participants, (3) how they find their activism relates to their university, and (4) how they find their network of activists. A developed Generation Z Activism Model depicts a spectrum from those Communication-Oriented activists who feel support and engaged mostly in communication to the other end of the spectrum as Action-Oriented activists who engage in a multitude of activities, critique activism as just communication, and do not feel as much support in their activism from higher education. These findings give a model to consider how activism can be embraced as multifaceted and how administrators and students can work to better understand each side’s perspective.

Included in

Education Commons