Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Paula A. Cordeiro, EdD, Chair; David Herrera, EdD, Member; Jennifer Wagman, PhD, Member


adult development, at-school Lived experience, generations, intuition, Leadership studies, Luganda, masculinity, Meaning-making, men, poverty, narrative analysis, social construction, Ugandan


In the study of both economic and human development, the men of the global South [sic] are often considered to be responsible for the lack of progress and for the lack of human flourishing. An abundance of literature exists exploring how women and children make meaning in the global South with many clear indicators that the choices made by men in their lives have led to an overall sense of need and a lack of wellness. Attempting to better understand how men of different cultures make sense of their world and navigate their life experiences can only enhance strategies in the process of change. In this study, the questions of masculinities were narrowed to Uganda. While the dominant Ugandan story from a Western lens is HIV/AIDS, partially due to the enormity of research focused on the virus, the nuances of meaning-making transcend the health sector. The purpose of this study was to investigate how masculinity is constructed for nine Ugandan male participants of three generations through an exploration of their at-school lived experiences and of their sense of engagement with and responsibility to other generations. The qualitative investigation was guided by a life history design. Narrative analysis was used to report the findings through the lens of adult development theory and within an ethical framework related to poverty. The participants suggested a strong connection between social and material capital, a learned distrust of government and authority, a financial dependence upon earlier generations, and a financial responsibility for following generations. The everyday disclosure of important facts and simple details appears to be highly protected by the men, creating unique power dynamics, and a deep reliance upon intuition in making sense of personal and professional realities. The title "We Are Not Mahogany" is from a Luganda saying used to encourage living in the moment, a trait the participants either espoused or observed in others. (Mahogany trees live longer than most trees in the region.) These new insights can be used to create more informed pedagogy, public health strategies, and as a foundation for further research in the pursuit of change at scale.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies