Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Virginia Foley

Committee Members

Pamela Scott, John Boyd


The purpose of this multi-method single-case study was to examine the application of Joseph Campbell's Heroic Journey model as a means of professional identity creation in the life of Walt Disney.

Walt Disney was an entrepreneur, cartoonist, filmmaker, inventor, studio head, and family man whose career stretched through the first half of the 20th century. Walt used his imagination and creativity to establish industry norms in the animation, film, television, and amusement park industries. Walt Disney's legacy and vision continue to be a viable influence within the Walt Disney Company today.

Campbell's Heroic Journey model was used as the theoretical framework for this study. The Heroic Journey model is rooted in folklore but is used as a means of personal self-discovery and self-construction (Murray, 2009). In the model, Campbell (2008) suggested that the world's myths were not a series of differing myths but one myth, the monomyth, played out differently across cultures. The monomyth is broken into three parts (separation, initiation, and return), with 17 stages dispersed across the parts.

The Heroic Journey model states that all heroes leave their familiar world, progress through trials, and return home with new learning for change. This framework was applied to Walt Disney's life to look at the narrative influence on his professional identity. The expansion of narrative scholarship and its influence on creating personal and professional identity using historical research, document review, and observational data was the purpose of this qualitative study.

The Heroic Journey model acts as a lens to create and discover one's identity by using stories as a vehicle of understanding. All of life's experiences must be viewed as narrative experiences to use the Heroic Journey model.

This study found that narrative cannot be separated from the human experience. It is one's life and lived experiences that create the story of their existence through separation, initiation, and return. Every experience from one's birth to death contributes to whom they will become both personally and professionally. By looking at life as a series of stories and narratives, one realizes the depth of their identity through reflection and examination.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.