Date of Award

Winter 12-11-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Joyce E. King, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Janice Fournillier, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Kristen Buras, Ph.D

Fourth Advisor

Jonathan Gayles, Ph.D


The legacy of schooling for Americans of African descent, especially males, has not been an affirming one. From the centuries ago Maafa, to today’s privatization and corporatization of the public school arena, forces have coalesced across the millennia to subvert the education of African students in America and subject them to subtractive schooling that denigrates their culture and creates a negative narrative regarding their educational outcomes. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula have gained wide popularity across the nation, often touted as a way to address childhood trauma, encourage positive behavior, and promote academic success with a focus on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. This study used an African-centered methodology, Afrocentric Emancipatory Methodology (AEM), and investigated the process of creating an African centered Social Emotional Learning Curriculum (AC-SEL) in collaboration with the community, the extent to which Afrocentric Education Theory informed the AC-SEL, and the type of school leadership required to implement and sustain an African centered SEL curriculum in a public school setting. The methods utilized were semi-structured interviews, participant observation, focus groups, a pilot curriculum implementation, and document analysis. The study gave birth to a new theory, Afrocentric Constructionism. The research findings were that deconstruction was part of the process of constructing the curriculum, that AC-SEL curriculum was indeed informed by Afrocentric Education Theory, and that transformative leaders, in coalition with the community and parents, are needed to implement an AC-SEL curriculum in a public school setting.


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