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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Leda Cooks

Second Advisor

Briankle Chang

Third Advisor

Sangeeta Kamat

Subject Categories

Communication | Higher Education


This study critically examines facets of student identity and youth activism in the context of evolving notions of citizenship and democracy in a globalized world. I conducted this study to research the nature of the divide that exists between civic engagement programs at higher education institutions that have committed to educating students for active citizenship, and the civic practices and activism that characterize student engagement outside the confines of higher education institutions. I argue that there is a dialectic between the subjective component of the civic agency of students and the dormant notion of citizenship promoted through institutional civic engagement programs. Through focus group research involving students, I critically analyzed the evolving identity of youth through their communication, civic practices and meaning- making. Along-side, I conducted a case study of Project Pericles, a national civic engagement initiative within higher education to research whether and how this relatively new initiative has engaged with evolving notions citizenship and democracy, and specifically how global citizenship is addressed and incorporated within the initiative. By illuminating aspects of student identity that inform their civic participation in current times and revealing how a new civic engagement institutional program is communicating and shaping civic practices on campuses across the nation, the study makes recommendations for how best to bridge the divide between the two sides with the goal of shaping the democratic character of our society through empowered students and effective pedagogies and practices within institutions.