Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Terry Mitchell

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Social change is a part of human existence, but other than charismatic individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, little has been published about the lived experience of social change agents. Time (era, passage of time, etc.) is often neglected as an important temporal factor of analysis in systemic social change (SSC) activities. The intent is to explore the experience of people working as SSC agents and discover what influences their work. A better understanding of this experience would contribute to more effective SSC work and perhaps address challenges facing change agents. The main research question, “What are the experiences of WLU Community Psychology programme graduates as agents of social change over the last 30 years?” considers temporal influences, varying socio-economic and political contexts and responses to those challenges. Constructivist, hermeneutical and dialectic epistemologies for this exploratory research project were used in a case study method approach, analyzed for sensitized thematic content across cases. A stratified, purposive mixed male and female sample of 15 WLU graduates represented classes from 1975 to 2005 and was divided into three 10-year cohorts, 1975–1985, 1986–1995, and 1996–2005 with five participants per cohort. Semi-structured interviews were completed, transcribed and member-checked by participants before coding, using NVivo software (Richards, 1999). Field notes along with archival research provided additional data sources for triangulation. The initial findings were reviewed by a cohort member. Based on the findings, I developed a collective definition of SSC and a framework for understanding a collective experience of systemic change. Furthermore, recommendations are presented for supporting change agents, individually and collectively, in their work.

Convocation Year