Complicity with the neocolonial project in education: A deconstruction of student affairs preparation practices

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Bondi, Stephanie
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Ryan E. Gildersleeve
Tyson Marsh
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Student affairs scholars have yet to explore neocolonialism. Scholars within the field rely on the foundational documents of the profession to guide policy and practice, without interrogating the widespread history of the colonial project. However, neocolonialism involves forces of domination and control through social, political, economic, and educational discourses, policies, and practices. This dissertation explores practices within one student affairs preparation classroom through a cultural historical activity theory framework (CHAT). Then, these practices are compared to standards for student affairs preparation programs to link the practices in the local classroom to the field at large. Finally, practices are deconstructed through a postcolonial lens to challenge the status quo of domination and control and offer a new understanding of preparation practices.

The findings suggest that student affairs preparation instructors and leaders are complicit with the neocolonial project in higher education. The CHAT analysis resulted in a description of three cultural rules and a division of labor in the classroom. First, students participating in this study described how learning content objectively was central to their classroom experiences. Further, they described a number of ways that their behavior was controlled in the classroom. Additionally, my analysis raised questions about the students' and instructors' silence on the racial dynamics of the classroom. Finally, roles of the instructor as organizer and evaluator and the students as followers emerged.

In order to be truly inclusive and welcoming to a diverse body of students in student affairs preparation, programs need to embrace multiple subjugated ways of knowing and being in the classroom and challenge the status quo of knowledge production and expected classroom behavior. This study offers a vision of a liberatory, validating student affairs preparation program to expose the oppressive forces of neocolonialism and work towards the field's goals of diversity and inclusivity.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011