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Intersectionality & Higher Education

Theory, Research, & Praxis

Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. A scholar of law, critical race theory, and Black feminist thought, Crenshaw used intersectionality to explain the experiences of Black women who – because of the intersections of race, gender, and class – are exposed to exponential forms of marginalization and oppression. Intersectionality & Higher Education documents and expands upon Crenshaw’s ideas within the context of U.S. higher education. The text includes theoretical and conceptual chapters on intersectionality; empirical research using intersectionality frameworks; and chapters focusing on intersectional practices. The volume may prove beneficial for graduate programs in ethnic studies, higher education, sociology, student affairs, and women and gender studies alike.
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Chapter Twenty-Two: PhD Pathways Mentoring Program: A Site to Build Intersectional Praxis


← 258 | 259 → CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

A Site to Build Intersectional Praxis


In 2012, Ball State University and its Office of Institutional Diversity embarked on a journey to pilot a formal mentoring program to guide minority students to the professoriate. Since then, the PhD Pathways mentoring program has formed and continues to evolve as a site for experimenting with intersectional praxis. As a public, four-year, predominantly White, Midwestern university, Ball State University works to recruit and retain diverse students and faculty as part of its strategic, institutional goals. PhD Pathways exists among the various actions the university has taken to proactively foster a diverse campus climate as it embraces a model of mentoring and supporting current students with the hope that they will return to motivate and mentor future students. Although the mission of the PhD Pathways program was designed within a specific campus culture, the idea of mentoring programs for underrepresented students seeking graduate education is not new (e.g., Southern Regional Education Doctoral Scholars Program, Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program), and the higher education literature has steadily placed attention on related research questions (see Holley & Caldwell, 2012; Keith & Russell, 2013; Warnock & Appel, 2012).

Through initiatives designated as formal mentoring programs (FMPs), higher education institutions have addressed issues of recruitment, retention, academic performance, college satisfaction, and matriculation to foster communities of institutional diversity, yet they are often created with narrow understandings of how identity...

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