The Spiritual Life of College Students: A National Study of College Students' Search for Meaning and Purpose

Higher Education Research Institute (HERI), 2005

In 2003, the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA began a major, multi-year research project to examine the spiritual development of undergraduate students during their college years. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the study is designed to enhance our understanding of the role that spirituality plays in students’ lives and to identify strategies that institutions can use to enhance students’ spiritual development. The project is based in part on the realization that the relative amount of attention that colleges and universities devote to the 'exterior' and 'interior' aspects of students’ development has gotten out of balance. We have increasingly come to neglect the student’s inner development—the sphere of values and beliefs, emotional maturity, spirituality, and self-understanding.

This report summarizes findings from a survey of 112,232 entering first-year students attending 236 diverse colleges and universities across the country. An initial pilot survey of 3,680 third-year students at 46 colleges and universities was completed in 2003. A follow-up survey, which will be administered to this year’s first-year students in Spring 2007 when they are juniors, will be used to study changes in these students’ spiritual/religious development during their undergraduate years. Faculty perspectives on spirituality and the undergraduate curriculum will also be examined.

Topic: College Organizations, Spirituality, Higher Education, University Organizations, Campus Organizations, Students, Religion

Funder: John Templeton Foundation

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Genre: Report

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
The Spiritual Life of College Students: A National Study of College Students' Search for Meaning and Purpose. Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). 2005:


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