Date of Award

8-6-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. James W. Ainsworth - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Toshi Kii

Third Advisor

Dr. Elisabeth O. Burgess

Abstract

Despite efforts of U.S. education institutions to encourage study abroad participation, Black and low income students are severely underrepresented compared with their White and higher income peers. Literature reveals that a combination of individual and institutional factors influences study abroad involvement; however, they fail to address how these factors work to limit the participation of interested students. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 21 Black and White students to investigate how they navigate the study abroad process. Cultural and social capital theories were used to understand their experiences. My findings demonstrate that for students that did not study abroad, Blacks compared to Whites encountered more difficulties when trying to activate their available resources to navigate the process. Also, non participating White students were more likely to make the conscious decision not to invest their class privileges to study abroad compared with their Black counterparts. Together, these findings suggest that race and class play a role in the activation and usage of cultural and social resources to study abroad.

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