Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Beth L. Goldstein


This study explores the nature of civic engagement of Muslim college students in the United States. The Community of Practice Theory is used as a conceptual structure to explore the relation between meaning, practice, identity and organization for Muslim students active in civic engagement through campus-based Muslim Student organizations. Pluralism, as shared values that combine different people and advocates wider civic participation, was adopted as part of the conceptual framework to see how the Muslim students think, serve, learn, and develop throughout the process of engagement on campus and in the local community. Particular attention is paid to the impacts of Islamophobia on the one hand and campus initiatives for diversity and inclusion on the other.

The study uses a mixed method design to uncover multiple dimensions of civic engagement of the Muslim students. In the first part of the study, a close-ended survey completed by fifty Muslim students on three Midwestern college campuses with active Muslim Student Associations (MSA) explored the domains, types, and intensity of civic engagement. In the subsequent qualitative field research, interviews of 12 members of the three MSAs explored the purposes, goals, effects, values, and aims of civic engagement from personal and organizational perspectives. The qualitative design also included field observations of MSA meetings and activities.

The study found that Muslim students’ engagement in civic practices is driven by religious, national, and conditional factors. Islam is the moral compass that incentivizes and guides their social and service activities on campus and in the local community. Through different aspects of practice, Muslim students affirm their presence as American citizens and encounter the negative discourses and images circulated about their faith identity. Engagement in the organization opens up ways for the Muslim students to establish constructive relations with non-Muslims, create connection and collaboration between the campus and the local community of Muslims, grow civically, and develop various leadership skills.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)