White Faculty Members Resisting White Supremacy Culture in Service Learning and Community Engagement: A Critical Narrative Analysis

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to deconstruct how and to what extent white faculty members resisted upholding white supremacy culture (WSC; Okun, 1999) during a critical event (Mertova and Webster, 2019) in their service learning and community-engaged (SLCE) practice. There are many critiques of SLCE practices, especially due to the perpetuation of colonization (Hernandez, 2017), assumptions based in racism and classism (Green, 2003), Whiteness (Applebaum, 2016; Leonardo, 2002) and characteristics of white supremacy culture (Okun, 1999). These topics have received more attention over the past decade, but there is still significantly less research on actions taken by SLCE faculty to actively resist perpetuating them (Mitchell et al., 2012). Guided by critical event narrative inquiry (Mertova and Webster, 2019) and framed by both first- and second-wave Critical Whiteness Studies (Jupp and Badenhorst, 2021), six participants were engaged in two empathetic interviews to answer the following research questions:

  1. What impact has the examination of their own Whiteness had on white faculty members' SLCE praxis?
  2. How did white faculty members resist upholding Whiteness (Leonardo, 2002) and characteristics of white supremacy culture (Okun, 1999) during critical events in their service learning and community-engaged (SLCE) practice?
  3. How do white faculty members continue to resist Whiteness and WSC in their SLCE praxis despite barriers, challenges, and tensions they have faced on their campuses and within their communities in doing so? Critical narrative analysis (Langdridge, 2007) was used to deconstruct the faculty members' experiences during these critical events (Mertova and Webster, 2019) in their SLCE practice. Findings relate to the importance of considering the setting, context, and impact of action taken within specific academic fields as well as the field of service learning and community engagement more broadly.



Service Learning and Community Engagement, White Supremacy Culture, Faculty, Critical Narrative Analysis