Making Meaning: How Student Affairs Came to Embrace

Report
Making Meaning: How Student Affairs Came to
Embrace Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and Life
Purpose
A forthcoming publication from
ACPA Books and Media / Stylus Press
Jenny L. Small, Boston College (Editor)
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Overview of the session
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9:00 – 9:10: Introduction
9:10 – 9:50: Two section presentations (including Q&A for each)
9:50 – 10:00: Break
10:00 – 10:20: Third section presentation (including Q&A)
10:20 – 10:40: Small group conversation #1
10:40 – 10:50: Break
10:50 – 11:00: Discussion of themes
11:00 – 11:20: Small group conversation #2
11:20 – 11:30: Concluding conversation
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Introduction
This program explores the forthcoming edited volume, Making Meaning: How Student
Affairs Came to Embrace Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and Life Purpose, being
published by ACPA Books and Media (2014). In the last 10 to 15 years there has been
a dramatic proliferation in research and best practices surrounding spirituality, faith,
religion, and life purpose in the field. This session studies the questions what has
enabled this topic to become an integral aspect of the field, and how we can build upon
this success for the future.
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Questions we will address
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How we reached a “tipping point” (Gladwell, 2000)
What the driving forces behind the change were
What fundamental transformations were caused by these changes
How these changes impacted people and institutions
How we can build upon this success
What lessons we can apply in the future
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Learning objectives
• History and current state of religion, spirituality, faith, and life purpose in 3 arenas:
research, association work, and practice.
• Shared vision-building of where the work on religion, spirituality, faith, and life
purpose can go in the future.
• Utilizing an example of past fostered changes as a lesson for how to facilitate future
change.
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Vivienne Felix and Nicholas A. Bowman, Bowling Green State University
Sam Siner, University of Texas at Austin
Tricia Seifert, University of Toronto
RESEARCH
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Historical Influences
• Colonial Colleges
• Models of education from abroad
• Christianity in higher education
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Discriminatory Practices
• Education as societal stratification
• Historical changes in demography of U.S. population
• Admission and treatment of Jewish students
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Fowler and Parks
• Fowler’s Stages of Faith (1981)
– Privileged toward a certain experience?
• Parks’ Big Questions, Worthy Dreams (2000)
– Moving toward inner-dependence
– Creating mentoring communities
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Religious Diversity and Faith Development
• Jewish students (MacDonald-Dennis, 2006)
– Developing Jewish identity
– Creating inclusive communities (Kushner, 2009)
• Muslim students (Peek, 2005)
– Developing Muslim identity
– Creating inclusive communities (Ali & Bagheri, 2009)
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Religious Diversity and Faith Development
• Atheist students
– Specific challenges and development theory (Nash, 2003; Siner, 2011)
– Creating inclusive communities (Goodman & Mueller, 2009)
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Further Research
• Intersections between religion/spirituality/faith and race, culture, sexual orientation,
etc.
• Student experiences at public vs. private secular vs. private religious universities
• Student experiences with other worldviews (e.g. Hinduism, agnosticism, Baha’i)
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Broad Religious/Worldview Groups
• Religious majority students
• Religious minority students
• Religiously unaffiliated students
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Student Experiences and Outcomes
• Perceiving a hostile religious/worldview climate
• Religious/spiritual growth
• Well-being and academic outcomes
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Forecast for future research
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Sharon A. Lobdell, University of Michigan-Dearborn
Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, Bowling Green State University
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
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How Professional Organizations Are Reshaping Higher
Education
• Putting critical issues regarding spirituality, religion, and meaning making into the
spotlight
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New programs
New/revised policies
Holistic approach to student learning
Promoting and sharing scholarship
• Create associations and partnerships that encourage programs and sharing of
resources
• National/International membership brings many life experiences to the table
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How Do These Associations Define Professionals?
• Sharon: “I was out of touch until I was exposed to a climate where my religious
beliefs were embraced…this nurturing allowed me to grow.”
• Dafina: “Participating in ACPA’s CSFRM was one of the most spiritually formative
experiences of my life.”
• As professionals help guide the journey of the students they work with, they can
engage in an intrapersonal journey to discover their own beliefs.
• Affiliation with these associations can be critical, especially if the professional does
not have a safe or open climate at their institution.
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Graduate Programs
• Through their research and collaborative efforts, these associations can help shape
graduate programs by creating/influencing the scholarly material, articles, and
competencies that will round-out the graduate preparation process.
• In turn, graduates from these programs can bring more individuals with knowledge
and skills concerning religious pluralism and interfaith dialogues into the profession.
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Questions for the Audience
• Did your grad school curriculum include any discussion on spirituality, religion, or
meaning making?
• How are you engaging issues of spirituality, faith, religion, and life purpose through
your professional association involvement?
• What do you need from your professional associations as support networks for this
engagement?
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10 minute break
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Kathleen Goodman and Katie Wilson, Miami University
Frank Shushok, Jr., and Patricia Perillo, Virginia Tech
PRACTICE
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Campus Practice in Support of Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and
Life Purpose
• Case Study: Miami University
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Campus Practice in Support of Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and
Life Purpose
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Courses and pedagogy
Co-curricular practices
Spirituality and health initiatives
Interfaith initiatives
Partnerships
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Campus Practice in Support of Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and
Life Purpose
• Sources of change
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Leadership of professional organizations
Increased grant funding
Highly visible research
Personal interests of campus faculty and admin
• Room for improvement
– Lack of widespread commitment
– Lack of training
– Need to be more inclusive
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Campus Practice in Support of Spirituality, Faith, Religion, and
Life Purpose
• Possibilities and Provocations
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Stop using the public institution defense
Enhance education and training
Create new structures and partnerships
Broaden the notion of spirituality
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New Openness for Spiritual Learning
• 2009 - Florida State University launched its Spiritual Life Project
• 2010 - University of Massachusetts, Amherst established the Office of Religious and
Spiritual Life
• 2012 - Stanford University appointed its first chaplain for atheists
• 2013 - Elon University (NC) opened its first multifaith center for religious and
spiritual life
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Students’ Meaning-Making in Practice
Campus leaders “should make a thoughtful, evidence-based, purposeful effort to get in
each student’s way; in fact, shaping a certain kind of campus culture may be the
biggest contribution campus leaders can make.” Light (2001)
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Students’ Meaning-Making in Practice
Integrative learning—learning that “engages the students in the systematic exploration
of the relationship between their studies of the objective world and the purpose,
meaning, limits, and aspirations of their lives” (Palmer, Zajonc, & Scribner, 2010)—is a
pedagogical approach that gets in the way.
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Students’ Meaning-Making in Practice
“Tragedy is a special, unique and powerful time to invite students to learn about some
of the most important questions related to living: Who are we? Why are we here? How
can we make the world more humane and just? (Shushok, 2010) - Virginia Tech got in
the way after the April 16, 2007
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Encouraging Spiritual Exploration on Campus—Three Good
First Steps
1. Space and Place
2. People and Roles
3. Conversation and Community
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How does this impact your research, practice, service, graduate studies?
What are the compelling issues, challenges, opportunities?
How does this presentation of the field align with your campus reality?
SMALL GROUP CONVERSATION #1
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10 minute break
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Discussion
• Themes of the book
– Timeline of change
– Virtuous cycles
– Inclusion of diverse voices
– Historical shifts
• Other themes of this session
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The future of meaning-making through research, practice, and professional
associations: where do we go from here?
SMALL GROUP CONVERSATION #2
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CONCLUDING CONVERSATION
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