Project Background

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:

The UCLA research team’s efforts were enriched by contributions from research analysts and members of the project’s National Advisory Board and Technical Advisory Panel.

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.

Defining Spirituality

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).