Student Change Agents as Citizens in Contemporary Universities: Achieving the Potential of Engagement


  • Rebecca Ropers-Huilman
  • Dorian McCoy


This article presents an analysis of student change agents' roles in two university contexts, one in New Zealand and one in the southern United States.  Through interviews with 55 administrators and students, we focus on how students crafted their roles as citizens of their universities and larger communities, and how institutional processes both supported and stymied their development as civic actors.  Our analysis suggests that shifting discourses about students' relationships with their institutions are changing students' abilities to fulfill their civic potential as full members of their institutions.  We urge that administrators, faculty members, and students recognize how discursive shifts related to postsecondary education affect student engagement, and that they work together to develop multiple and clear paths for students to engage in civic action and development.

Author Biographies

Rebecca Ropers-Huilman

Rebecca Ropers-Huilman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Develop at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.


Dorian McCoy

Dorian L. McCoy is Assistant Professor of Integrated Professional Studies at the University of Vermont.