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Perry’s theory of intellectual and ethical development serves as a seminal theory on student development. The civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri during the 2014-2015 school year resulted in demonstrations on college campuses throughout the country, including the Occupy SLU movement at Saint Louis University. In this mixed-methods phenomenological study, 19 students were interviewed about their experiences during the movement. The research questions underlying this study include: How were SLU students impacted by the events in Ferguson, Missouri during the 2014-2015 school year? How can Perry’s theory be applied to student development during this historic time? How can these findings be utilized to better understand and support student development during periods of civil unrest? The participants’ stories are analyzed through the lens of Perry’s theory using the constant comparative method. Evidence of Perry’s four stages of development emerged from the data, including dualism, multiplicity, relativism, and commitment to relativism, as well as evidence of his three deflections from growth, including temporizing, escape, and retreat. The findings of this research serve to capture the student experiences on campus during Occupy SLU, inform higher education professionals on the impact of this social movement, and provide further validation for Perry’s theory.



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