Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Communication, Technology, and Society

Committee Member

Dr. Stephanie M. Pangborn, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. D. Travers Scott

Committee Member

Dr. Joseph P. Mazer


The American College Association has recognized the growing trend among college students of body image disturbance to be one in need of attention. Clemson University recently noticed a visible shift in student fitness culture in which excessive exercise is embraced, elevating university health and fitness professionals' concern because excessive exercise is a dangerous disordered behavior associated with body image disturbance. In 2015, these two phenomena became top priority for campus health efforts as they directly impact students' well-being and daily lives. In light of research related to health promotion, intervention, and campaigns, however, the need for formative research engaging the student population is necessary. In this study, I joined these efforts by conducting qualitative formative research using an ethnographically-inspired methodological design that coupled participant observation at a campus recreation facility with in-depth interviews with students and campus health and fitness professionals who specialize in the planning, organizing, and communication for Student Health Services. These efforts led to significant insight about the challenges specific to this time of life for students and the unique qualities of the social landscape of this place they call home. Practical implications of these findings suggest that university health and fitness professionals have much to gain by taking a dialogic approach in addressing these issues, acknowledging students as the experts of their lives, inviting them into meaningful conversations about these issues, and empowering them to take ownership of positive change on the Clemson University campus.



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