Publication Date


Degree Name

EdD in Global Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Alla Korzh

Second Advisor

Dr. Deepa Srikantaiah

Third Reader

Dr. Adam Bush


The social and educational disruption during confluence of COVID isolation and Black Lives Matter protests was critical to learning and agency amongst Youth of Color. This phenomenological qualitative study centers around Youth of Color in Providence, Rhode Island as they contested formal education and sought to make meaning of these events. Drawing on Amartya Sen’s capability approach, a series of in-depth phenomenological interviews with participants to explore the meaning they gleaned from their engagement in Youth-led emancipatory educational initiatives, particularly in terms of their sense of identity and agency. Although existing literature documents Youth resistance, this study explores Youth reflections on their experiences of agency for social justice. Through the lens of the capability approach, the findings illustrate the participant learning and agency journeys Youth undertook to seek a life they have reason to value. Findings indicate Youth of Color seek to learn what they find missing in formal education, both individually and collectively. It reveals the importance of collective Youth-led spaces that cultivate agency to pursue social justice for themselves and future generations. Exploring the alchemy of how Youth of Color transmute their experiences and learning to collectively develop agency for social justice has implications for adult allyship and formal education.

Key words: Youth Identity, Youth-led collective spaces, non-formal learning, emancipatory educational initiatives, phenomenology, Youth agency


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Community-Based Learning | Education