Susan McKevitt, Ph.D. is a 2010 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Philomena Essed, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Bettina Aptheker, Ph.D., External Reader


peace, social justice, activism, life-long, women, mixed method, social movements

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Publication Date



This dissertation is a mixed methods sequential study on the factors that sustain U.S. women's life-long peace and social justice activism. The specific cohort of women sought for this study was those who entered their social justice activism during the late 1950s through the early 1970s and were active in the U.S. civil rights struggles, the anti-Vietnam war movement, or participated in the second phase of the women's liberation movement. Through utilizing a snowballing process, fifty-seven participants were obtained for the quantitative survey phase of the study from which the ten participants (five White, five women of Color) were selected for the qualitative or interview stage. Based on the survey and interview data, four factors emerged as sustaining life-long peace and social justice activism: historical perspective, relationships, gender and race, and having a personal spiritual belief. The study also offers definitions for activist, social justice, long-term (or life-long), explains how peace is looked at herein, and briefly addresses adult development, feminist standpoint, and essentialist theories. This study begins to fill the gap in research on social justice and peace activist by including women, focusing on sustainability factors, and by extending the concept of life-long or long-term activism. Further research opportunities are suggested as this study is an entry into the subject matter, along with some suggestions to current and future peace and social justice activists on how to sustain their activism for the long haul. The study concludes with some personal reflections. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,