THIS GROUNDBREAKING WORK IS BASED on a five-year study of how students change during the college years and the role college plays in facilitating the development of their spiritual qualities. Students, the authors argue, grapple with the big questions in life: Who am I? What are my values? Do I have a mission in life? Why am I in college? What kind of person do I want to be? What sort of world do I want to help to create? Their answers to these questions help determine their academic and career choices and are tied to the development of personal qualities such as empathy, caring, and social responsibility.
The study finds that, while students' religious engagement declines during college, at the same time they become substantially more caring, tolerant, connected with others, and actively egaged in a spiritual quest. Spiritual growth also enhances academic performance, leadership development, and satisfaction with college. The study provides strong evidence pointing to specific experiences during college that can contribute to students' spiritual growth.
The need for spiritual development in college is apparent. Two-thirds of the students in the study express a strong interest in spiritual matters, well over half report that their professors never encourage discussions of religious or spiritual matters, and about the same proportion report that professors never provide opportunities to discuss the purpose and meaning of life. Cultivating the Spirit aims to raise the awareness of academic administrators, faculty, and the public at large to the vital role that spirituality plays in student learning and development. Throughout the book, the authors identify strategies for enhancing students' development and encourage the academy to give greater priority to the spiritual aspects of students' educational and personal development.
About the Authors vii
1 Why Spirituality Matters 1
2 Assessing Spiritual and Religious Qualities 12
3 Spiritual Quest: The Search for Meaning and Purpose 27
4 Equanimity 49
5 Spirituality in Practice: Caring For and About Others 63
6 The Religious Life of College Students 83
7 Religious Struggle and Skepticism 101
8 How Spiritual Growth Affects Educational and Personal Development 115
9 Higher Education and the Life of the Spirit 137
Appendix: Study Methodology 159