Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Transformational Teaching and Learning


Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Andrew Mines

Second Advisor

Dr. Cathy McGeehan

Third Advisor

Dr. Brenda Muzeta


This dissertation reports on qualitative research done with a phenomenological methodology on the topic of building community. This was explored through the voices of over 200 participants representing more than 30 countries. Surveys and in-depth interviews examined international experiences and cultural background of participants alongside many stakeholder voices from within higher education, including international and domestic students, faculty, and staff. Though the study and application is focused on a higher education context, the research has broader implications to society in looking at how intentional conversations across cultural symmetry impacts relationships and community building. The data touched on feelings of isolation and division in society. The literary scholarship and data collection instruments examined themes such as sense of belonging, acceptance, and identity formation, and the global competency skills that are useful in other cultures as well as in the U.S. Key findings included the impact of lifeworlds as related to identity, the pressure to conform in order to find acceptance, and how humility and better listening are essential to building community on the micro and macro level. Learning to cross borders between differences, disciplines, departments, generations, politics, and cultures in order to interact with people can increase awareness and understanding, while hopefully building empathy and compassion for others. We can create a new and different future through conversations with those who think differently than us.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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