Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Molina, Danielle K.

Committee Member

Labat, Myron B. Jr.

Committee Member

Moyen, Eric A.

Committee Member

Bourgeois, Thomas I.

Date of Degree

12-1-2020

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Major

Higher Education Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

College

College of Education

Department

Department of Educational Leadership

Abstract

A commitment to advancing civic engagement has been evident throughout the history of the U.S. higher education system. Civic engagement is a part of the mission of fraternity and sorority organizations. Because of this commitment to civic engagement, the purpose of this study is to understand what is happening in the development of civic engagement of fraternity and sorority alumni, specifically the role fraternity and sorority life plays in this development. The research questions that guide this study include: 1) How do fraternity and sorority alumni exercise civic engagement upon graduating from their undergraduate college experiences?; 2) How do fraternity and sorority alumni make meaning of the impact past Greek participation play in their current commitment to civic engagement?; 3) What impact do environments along the academic pathway (e.g., high school, college, postcollege) have on the longitudinal process of meaning making around commitments to civic engagement for fraternity and sorority alumni? Levering key perspectives from Astin’s (1984) Person-Environmental Theory, Baxter Magolda’s Self-Authorship Theory (1999), and Musil’s Spiral Model (2009), the literature review synthesizes research on civic engagement inputs and outcomes into a new conceptual model for understanding the complex process of longitudinal civic engagement commitments via iterative precollege, college, and postcollege experiences. The design of this study comes a from a constructive-development pedagogy lens, that used focus groups to collect data from the narratives of 25 alumni members of fraternity and sorority organizations from a single institution site broken down by Council membership of the National Panhellenic Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the Inter-Fraternity Council. The themes from the results included that most participants took part in a variety of civic engagement experiences prior to college; their commitment to civic engagement grew due to the influence of other chapter members and other student organizations during college; membership commitment due to the foundational leverage of internal commitment to civic engagement; and current environments and previous lived experiences had an impact on participants’ current civic engagement commitment and identity. Additional research should be conducted to determine if this research could be replicated at other higher education institutions and fraternity and sorority communities to better understand the long-term impact of these experiences on alumni’s civic engagement identity.

URI

https://hdl.handle.net/11668/20839

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