In 2002, under the direction of Alexander Astin, Helen Astin, and Jennifer Lindholm, UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute launched a major, multi-year program of research to examine the spiritual development of undergraduate students during the college years. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the study was designed to enhance our understanding of how college students conceive of spirituality, the role it plays in their lives, and how colleges and universities can be more effective in facilitating students’ spiritual development. Among the primary research questions were:
This breakthrough study,What role does spirituality play in the
exploring new territory,
is much needed because
college students are the
leadership of the future
and will set the
Moral Tone of Society
in the years ahead.”
lives of today’s college students?
- How do students’ spiritual qualities change
during the college years?
- What are institutions doing that aids or inhibits
students in their spiritual quest?
Study findings will be highlighted in a forthcoming (2010) book published by Jossey-Bass, tentatively entitled, Cultivating the Spirit. Other research team reports and publications using these data are also available on this site, along with media releases and articles and a project newsletter archive.
As defined through the measures we have created, spirituality is a multifaceted quality. It involves an active quest for answers to life’s “big questions” (Spiritual Quest), a global worldview that transcends ethnocentrism and egocentrism (Ecumenical Worldview), a sense of caring and compassion for others (Ethic of Caring) coupled with a lifestyle that includes service to others (Charitable Involvement), and a capacity to maintain one’s sense of calm and centeredness, especially in times of stress (Equanimity).