Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Orkideh Mohajeri, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith Bijoux-Leist, Psy.D.

Committee Member

Mia Ocean, Ph.D.


Social work and higher education are rooted in systems of racism and exclusion and continue to operate as racialized spaces. As the social work profession grapples with its past and calls upon social work educators to support efforts to undo structural racism, paying attention to what is happening in educational spaces is essential. In this study, I examined the stories and tensions of White Social Work faculty engaged in efforts to dismantle whiteness in their classrooms, departments, and universities. Using narrative inquiry, I interviewed nine White faculty from different universities representing five regions across the United States. I explored their interpretations of whiteness within social work and higher education and elicited stories about how they work to disrupt whiteness and what tensions they experience. The stories illuminated three foundational insights about doing the work, including the importance of critical inquiry and systems thinking, an awareness of the ambiguousness of whiteness, and a belief that resistance takes many forms. The study also revealed that faculty sought to disrupt existing power structures in and outside of the classroom, primarily by amplifying diverse perspectives and examining policy. Finally, the classroom represented a distinctive place for faculty to challenge the status quo. When efforts moved outside of the classroom and beyond their own agency, resistance arose. Two participants experienced significant backlash that led to professional and personal harm. This study provides evidence of the operations of whiteness in social work educational spaces and insights into the ways White social work faculty push back.