Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Claire Michѐle Rice

Second Advisor

Judith McKay

Third Advisor

Robin Cooper


African American, conflict resolution, phenomenology, postgraduate matriculation, women


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the educational matriculation experiences of African American (AA) women in pursuance of postgraduate degree status from the pre-kindergarten to doctoral levels. This study used a transcendental phenomenological approach, guided by the following research questions: 1) What are the elements within academia that define and influence the educational experiences for post-graduate degreed AA women? 2) What (if any) challenges to post-graduate degree attainment, were experienced by the population; what meaning do they find in those experiences? And 3) What are the perceptions of this population regarding how their intersecting identities pertaining to race and gender informed their academic experience? To date, there exist exclusions of the African American feminist perspective from mainstream epistemologies and methodologies, and this study aims to fill this gap in research.

The analysis of data illuminated “the concrete rose” as the essence of how this population, through their resilience, navigated their postgraduate matriculation experience. Further, the results of the analysis were elucidated through six major themes regarding participant educational experiences: 1) intersectional feminist standpoint, 2) perceptions of hegemony within academic pursuits, 3) motivational influencers, 4) the perspective of historically black colleges and universities and primarily white institutions, 5) notions of visibility, and 6) mentorship and support. The results of this study provide the field of conflict resolution studies a more robust and inclusive framework for understanding the specific needs and experiences of this population through an interdisciplinary lens. The study also provides recommendations for future research, institutional policy and practice for practitioners working with AA female students.