School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Samuel James Smith


classical education, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Christian education, institutional conflict, modernism




The purpose of this classical grounded theory study was to develop a theory to explain how Eastern Orthodox Christians navigate conflict in educational settings. Data were collected from Eastern Orthodox Christians who work or had recently worked in educational settings via interviews, focus groups, and journaling. Analysis was conducted by theoretical sampling, constant comparison, open coding, axial coding, and theoretical integration. Navigating conflict in educational settings was explained by the Incarnating Conflict Theory, which demonstrated that participants see themselves in dynamic positions where spiritual and material expressions of reality are indivisible, and this was actuated with an orientation towards restoration. Conflict was described as tension in culture or politics that resulted in marginalization. The central category was Incarnating Conflict, while other major categories were Positioning, Establishing a Mode of Action, and Engaging. A total of 15 participants contributed to data collection. The manuscript begins with an overview of the study and a brief context of the phenomenon. Chapter 2 contains the literature review, which develops the study’s historical, religious, educational, and political contexts. Chapter 3 presents all facets of the methodology, including the rationale for this study being a grounded theory. Chapter 4 presents the findings of the research wherein the Incarnating Conflict Theory is detailed, and Chapter 5 presents a summary and a discussion of the findings.

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