Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

First Advisor

Rachel M. Hershberg, Ph.D.


The purpose of this paper is to use a critical consciousness framework to analyze two possible factors that may contribute to individual levels of civic engagement, how these factors can operate within a global framework, and how these factors may be promoted through educational institutions to increase equity in societies around the globe. The data analyzed for this study comes from data collected as part of a study of beliefs and actions regarding social justice issues on the University of Washington Tacoma campus. For this paper, the two factors being studied as mediators in the relationship between awareness of social inequity (critical reflection) and the actions taken to address those inequalities (critical action) are empathy and social justice identity. Empathy is an innate human trait that can be enhanced through purposeful instruction and may be responsible for motivating individuals to engage in causes that do not directly impact them. By contrast, social justice identity is conceptualized as a stable construct, similar to a worldview belief or personality factor, and therefore is less likely to be influenced by an education-based intervention but may still be important to the promotion of activism behaviors. The results of statistical mediation analyses indicate that empathy and social justice identity both are partial mediators in the relationship between critical reflection and critical action. However, social justice identity demonstrated a larger mediating effect. Lastly, implications of findings and potential intervention programs aimed at promoting civically engaged citizens in societies worldwide using educational institutions are discussed.