Purdue University Graduate School
Vasilko final.pdf (2.9 MB)

Interpret the World and Change It: Overcoming Barriers to Positive Social Change

Download (2.9 MB)
posted on 2023-05-10, 16:15 authored by Kayla M VasilkoKayla M Vasilko


Countless individuals are joining together in action against conditions antithetical to enhancing life for all people and the planet, and opposing the destruction of their world; yet, the world is facing global social and environmental devastation sparked by the growing economic divide, increasing power wielded by the capitalist elite, diminishing individual freedom, and heightening environmental mutilation (Bowers, Ochs, Jensen, and Schulz, 2010; Scipes, 2022a; Scipes, 2022b; Teruelle, 2012). Global collective solidarity that includes participatory decision making is necessary to begin to address these challenges and increase equality and social justice (Artz, 2019a; Artz, 2019b; Conner and Zaino, 2014; Scipes, 2022, Teruelle, 2012; Thomson and Holland, 2002). Just as mass media can define cultural conventions and propagate global ideology, higher education outlets have comparable behavioral influence; further, they are crucial components of actualizing visions of social change and innovation (Artz, 2022a; Artz, 2022b; Bajwa-Patel, Hazenberg, and Rivers, 2015; Cooper, 2021; Lavigne, 2018; Patrick, 2020). Psychological empowerment is an equally crucial component of citizen participation (social movements), and requires a cognitive component of critical awareness and resource mobilization (Christens, 2012). The process of hegemony and capitalist elite cultural imperialism can severely threaten this mobilization; thus, consideration to the construction of reality must be given (Barthes, 1991; Lears, 1985; Totu and Yakin, 2014). This study examined these theories in conjunction with three hypotheses set to test how social change is perceived as a concept around the world. The hypotheses were tested in two parts; for the first, a survey was administered to university students around the world, and for the second, a virtual, global collective action seminar was carried out and participants were surveyed following their experience. The results were coded and analyzed, and conclusions were made about universal barriers to collective action, universal influencers of awareness of the need for social change, and universal motivators for action.  


Degree Type

  • Master of Arts


  • Communication

Campus location

  • Hammond

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Lee Artz

Additional Committee Member 2

Kim Scipes

Additional Committee Member 3

Rhon Teruelle