Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Annemarie Vaccaro


The purpose of this study was to explore how white women engaged with interrogating whiteness, race, and racism after completing a multi-session diversity program designed for graduate students. This qualitative research project tends to the following research question: What are the lived experiences of white women who complete a diversity and inclusion program for graduate students?

For this research project, white women who are graduate students participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Using critical whiteness theory, a feminist research framework, and interpretive phenomenological analysis, this study identified commonalities in experiences among participants (Creswell & Poth, 2018; van Manen, 2014). As is common in phenomenology and feminist research, participant narratives illustrated the parts constituting the whole picture of the phenomenon. The five elements describing the essence of the white women graduate students’ experiences in the diversity and inclusion program were: motivation, participation, racial literacy, agreement, and reflection. Each of these superordinate themes had component subthemes. Research results were represented in prose and also in the form of two composite poems. Finally, I present study limitations and synthesize recommendations on how institutions of higher learning can intentionally structure (un)learning spaces for white students to further their anti-racism work.



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