Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




In the United States, the student population is becoming more diverse, voucher programs on are the rise, and conservative Christian schools are growing. Given these conditions, it is likely that conservative Christian schools will become more diverse, and it becomes imperative to understand how they "do" diversity. This dissertation addresses that imperative through examining how diversity is understood and taken up in a conservative Christian school. Sensemaking theory frames the study, as sensemaking is a process whereby stakeholders in an organization render an abstract concept, like diversity, concrete via their words and actions. The primary methodology is a phenomenological case study relying on interviews, focus groups, document analysis, and observation. Specifically, the dissertation demonstrates that the school's conservative Christian ideology, which manifested in the school's desire to create a unified community of strong Christians, defines--even as it subverts--the school's efforts to recruit a more diverse staff and student body and create an atmosphere celebrating diversity. But broadly, it demonstrates that sensemaking about diversity in schools is largely shaped by organizational context. Essentially, diversity does not mean the same thing, nor can it be addressed the same way in all schools. Further, organizational forces can undercut a school's best efforts to address diversity. The dissertation documents the study's implications for Christian schools, educational research, and school voucher legislation.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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