Sensemakers, strategyshapers and saboteurs: A case study analysis of the process of planting, watering, harvesting and up -rooting the seeds of transformational change

Patricia J Louison, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

In American society, race and ethnic diversity have been issues of persistent and vital concern. W. E. B. Du Bois called the color-line—the relations between the darker and lighter races of Asia, Africa, America and the islands of the sea—the biggest problem of the twentieth century (Du Bois, p.16). He observed that races do not mix, unless they are impelled by economic, political or social forces. Du Bois also argued that this invisible, intangible, and, oft times, elusive color-line not only separates the races, but perpetuates a caste system that permeates and poisons the relationship between the races. Even though the color-line is crossed through “much daily interaction, there is almost no community of intellectual life or point of transference where the thoughts and feelings of one race can come into sympathy with the thoughts and feelings of the other.” John Hope Franklin (1993) reflecting on Du Bois' work concluded that the legacy of the color-line had yet to be solved in the twentieth century. Sadly, the same may be said today, on the doorstep of the twenty-first century. ^ The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the recurring racial problems faced by one institution, Mason University (a pseudonym). Simply put, Mason has repeatedly attempted but failed to institutionalize its diversity efforts. It is a problem of practice that not only impacts Mason, but many institutions of higher education across the nation, as evidenced by the myriad efforts chronicled in the Association of American Colleges & Universities's DiversityWeb initiative. The research questions that guided my study are: (1) What factors inhibited organizational change around diversity at Mason University? (2) How do the disparate perspectives of various groups, (e.g. students, faculty and administrators) influence how a diverse and inclusive Mason University is defined? How does this sensemaking influence and even confound the change effort? (3) What impact have these ongoing efforts had on making Mason a diverse and inclusive campus? ^ This research employs Weick's (1995) sensemaking framework as a way to examine how various constituents make sense of and support (or thwart) efforts to make Mason University a more tolerant academic community. ^

Subject Area

Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Patricia J Louison, "Sensemakers, strategyshapers and saboteurs: A case study analysis of the process of planting, watering, harvesting and up -rooting the seeds of transformational change" (January 1, 2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3137314.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3137314

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