Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Philo Hutechson - Chair

Second Advisor

Marybeth Gasman

Third Advisor

Joyce E King

Fourth Advisor

Richard Lakes


The social purpose of American higher education is a question that has frequently surfaced. The Atlanta showing of the Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography In America Exhibit provided a unique opportunity for an institution of higher education, a government agency, and private citizens to collaborate on a reconciliatory project related to the social justice issue of lynching. The role of higher education has varied over the course of history, but the foundation for this study was laid when higher education institutions first developed an interconnectedness with the communities in which they resided, with higher education serving in a key capacity in the development and training of community leaders. This case study was designed to examine how Emory University, a private, prestigious, Southern research university, collaborated with external entities to provide educational opportunities for members of the Atlanta community to engage in discourse related to the lynchings that occurred in the United States from the 1870s to the 1960s. The case study method allowed for the exploration of complex social conditions from multidimensional perspectives. Interviews of individuals involved with the Exhibit and Emory University as well as document analysis were used to investigate the problem. The partnership was examined through a social justice framework, allowing for a full examination of the process and the outcome of the partnership in relation to the treatment of the subject matter. As a result of this study, a greater understanding of the role institutions of higher education can have in reconciliatory acts related to racial oppression and social injustice is provided.