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Read the essays in the SSRC Forum on The Religious Engagements of American Undergraduates

Annotated Bibliography
Published on: May 29, 2007

Astin, A. W. 1977. Four Critical Years: Effects of College on Beliefs, Attitudes, and Knowledge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

            In his first book and major study of college students, Astin looks at changes in attitudes, beliefs, self-concept, behavior, academic achievement, the career path, and college satisfaction. Questions explored about religion include how religious affiliation changes or is weakened during college, how religious attendance is impacted, what aspects of the college experience contribute to these changes, and how student experiences and changes are different at secular, Catholic, and Protestant institutions. Astin notes differences by gender, race, and academic ability. The book concludes with suggestions for policy makers and educational institutions in light of this study’s results.

Astin, A. W. 1993. What Matters in College?: Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

            This is an updated and revamped version of Astin’s important 1977 book and study, Four Critical Years, and helps readers to understand more about “how undergraduate students are affected by their college experiences.” It details “how the environmental characteristics and the experiences of involvement” affect political orientation, career development, personality, beliefs, values, various behaviors, academic variables, and satisfaction with college. The effects of the religious composition of the student body (an environmental characteristic) and the religious attendance of students (an involvement variable) on many of the above variables are measured and reported. Astin’s book should be very helpful to student affairs personnel or faculty as well as to prospective students and parents looking for a particular kind of college experience.

Astin, A. W. 1993. “An Empirical Typology of College Students.” Journal of College Student Development 34(1): 36-46.

            Can college students be categorized and their college experiences predicted? Astin attempts this task and believes to have found six basic, “ideal” types. Of course, few students will fit perfectly into these categories, but many are likely to resemble one type more than the others. Based on freshman surveys from 1971 and 1986, the article also reveals that some of these “types”—specifically, students who enjoy drinking, partying, and staying up late (“hedonistic”) and students who change colleges or areas of study during their education (“the uncommitted”)—tend to go to religious services less frequently than others. Other types Astin mentions include scholars, activists, and artists. This article may be especially useful to university administrators.

Bell, R. and H. Wechsler, et al. 1997. “Correlates of College Student Marijuana Use: Results of a U.S. National Survey.” Addiction 92(5): 571-581.

            The authors examine the results of a national survey to discover whether certain college activities or personal characteristics contributed to or prevented students’ use of marijuana, which has obvious effects on their educational experience. The importance of religion to a student is tested, as well as college size, college culture, the importance of community service, engaging in other risky behaviors, and time spent studying, with friends, and partying. Although the impact of religion is weaker than the other activities, its importance to student drug use is still considered. The article also includes information about the prevalence of drug use on campus, the “social nature” of this behavior during the college years, and concerns about its implications for public health.

Benson, P. L., M. J. Donahue, and J. A. Erickson. 1989. “Adolescence and Religion: A Review of the Literature from 1970 to 1986.” Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion 1: 53-181.

            Benson et al. examine the research conducted between 1970 and 1986 on the religiousness of young people aged 10-18, an age range spanning early adolescence (5th to 8th grade) and mid-adolescence (9th to 12th grade). The authors divide the literature into four sections: “a national profile of adolescent religiousness, cognitive processes in adolescent religious development, psychosocial factors in religious development, and the relationship of adolescent religiousness to social-personality variables.” Important findings include a general consensus in national profiles that religiousness among adolescents is declining, in part due to rejection of the concrete images of childhood. Despite the breadth of areas covered in the existing research, the authors cite a number of methodological problems: studies that lack a firm grounding in theory; a general dearth of longitudinal studies; a tendency in the literature to overlook humanitarian functions of religion such as prejudice, empathy, and volunteerism; and, most notably, a failure to explore links between religiousness and moral development.

Blaine, B. and J. Crocker. 1995. “Religiousness, Race, and Psychological Well-Being—Exploring Social-Psychological Mediators.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 21:1031-1041.

            The authors survey 144 college students to learn more about the relationship between religiosity and psychological wellbeing and the degree to which racial and religious variables matter. Findings suggest that despite similarity of religious belief, the relationship of personal religion to psychological health is stronger among African American students.

Bramadat, P. A. 2000. The Church on the World’s Turf: An Evangelical Christian Group at a Secular University. New York: Oxford University Press.

            This book summarizes Bramadat’s findings based on his fieldwork with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter (IVCF) of McMaster University in Ontario, the largest such chapter in Canada. The IVCF has a membership of more than two hundred students on a campus of fourteen thousand. Bramadat argues that these evangelical students adopt different strategies for dealing with the “permeable membrane” between the evangelical world and the rest of McMaster campus, and the non-Christian world more generally. One strategy is a form of resistance. Using a “fortress strategy,” evangelicals seek to protect themselves from “threatening elements of the secular educational ethos, such as relativism, evolution, promiscuity, and alcohol consumption.” Another strategy is meant to link the evangelical and non-Christian worlds. Here, evangelicals might articulate their evangelical convictions and beliefs in a classroom discussion, though they often do so in a cautious manner. Ultimately, Bramadat finds that many of the evangelical students are “content to ‘live with the tension’ of being children of God in a godless institution.”

Braskamp, L. A. Forthcoming. “The Religious and Spiritual Journey of College Students.” In The American University in a Postsecular Age: Religion and Higher Education, edited by D. Jacobsen and R. H. Jacobsen. New York: Oxford University Press.

            This chapter provides a useful overview of research on college student spirituality. Identifying three types of students—“millenials,” “post-modern,” and “missionary,”—Braskamp argues that there is no single type of college student spirituality. He surveys prior research about the religious and spiritual journey of college students through the university, year by year, and then identifies four important factors that impact these journeys: culture, curriculum, co-curriculum, and communities. Braskamp concludes that students “experiment with a variety of avenues and approaches, and they tend to be more consumer-oriented, selecting from existing forms of worship and spirituality and adapting it to meet their unique needs and life style.” The chapter concludes with a consideration of how these findings should influence student affairs theory, as well as policy and practice in the academy.

Braskamp, L. A. and L. Trautvetter, et al. 2006. Putting Students First: How to Develop Students Purposefully. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

            This book addresses three ways that ten faith-based colleges and universities profess to effectively cultivate the holistic development of their students. The first is the intentionality of colleges: how they guide and support students, and what they believe is a desirable end for students. The second is how colleges recognize and support the student’s own purpose and mission in life. The third is the role that faculty and other adults on campus play in the holistic development of students. Braskamp et al. find that these ten institutions seek to prepare their students to be active members of society, and have leaders who work tirelessly to stay “on message”—capitalizing on all opportunities to communicate the institutional mission to students. The authors provide recommendations for other colleges wishing to improve holistic student development on their campuses, including: fostering a community that both challenges and supports its all of its members; rewarding faculty and staff for their contributions to the college community; and developing a community that promotes open inquiry for all of its members.

Bryant, A. N. 2004. “Campus Religious Communities and the College Student Experience.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles.

            Participation in religious communities is central to the lives of many college students across the United States. Few studies, however, provide detailed information about the content of student beliefs, or on the impacts—academic, personal, and religious—of these groups on their members over time. Using data generated from first-year student responses to two datasets—the Fall 2000 Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey and the Spring 2001 Your First College Year (YFCY) Survey—Alyssa N. Bryant provides a more robust picture of participation in religious campus subcultures in students’ first year of college. Some of Bryant’s findings challenge preconceived notions of religious college students: for example, that involvement in a religious organization prevents cultural awareness. The author complements her quantitative findings with an in-depth case study of an evangelical student group on the campus of a large university. She finds that “many students sought a self-authored faith distinct from their parents’” and, despite conservative theological views and a conservative belief in gender roles (a prevailing belief in essential gender roles and an evangelical community defined by masculine norms), evangelical students display a diverse range of political attitudes.

Bryant, A. N. 2005. “Evangelicals on Campus: An Exploration of Culture, Faith, and College Life.” Religion and Education 32, 1-30.

            This study continues Bryant’s work on evangelical communities on college campuses, which she first explored in her 2004 dissertation (see Bryant 2004). Bryant observed and interviewed members of Sharing the Faith Fellowship (a pseudonym), a conservative evangelical group on the campus of a large university. Her goals were to define the important cultural characteristics of the group; to define the group’s “goals, norms, beliefs, values, truth claims, personalities, and conflicts”; and to understand how “group members perceive and react to the norms, beliefs, values, and truth claims of the university…and other faith traditions represented on campus.” Her analysis suggests that political engagement is a tenuous and conflicting issue for evangelical students. Many of the students she interviewed, for example, possessed both liberal and conservative views simultaneously. While she found consensus among student views on moral conduct (particularly in the areas of drinking, sex, abortion) that was consistent with traditional evangelicalism, some respondents had non-traditional feelings toward the gay and lesbian community. Finally, Bryant’s observations support the idea that as institutions themselves pay less attention to cultivating moral virtue among their students, individual religious groups have assumed the responsibility of teaching their members character formation.

Bryant, A. N. 2006. “Assessing the Gender Climate of an Evangelical Student Subculture in the United States.” Gender and Education 18(6): 613-634.

            Bryant explores the gendered experiences of student members of a college evangelical community. Her study builds on her dissertation findings (see Bryant 2004) that college evangelicals possess conservative beliefs in gender roles, and that evangelical communities are defined by masculine norms. Bryant culled her data from observations at weekly meetings of the “Sharing the Faith Fellowship” student group (see Bryant 2005 for a more in-depth discussion of this group), as well as other events, and supplemented these observations with 22 student interviews. Bryant finds that “masculine assumptions ingrained in leadership, languages, and images of God” and beliefs in essential gender differences, structure “leadership, modesty, and attitudes toward marriage and dating.” These gender-related attitudes support those commonly expressed by members of the wider evangelical community. Bryant concludes with a discussion of the potential negative consequences of beliefs in traditional gender roles.

Bryant, A. N. 2006. “Exploring Religious Pluralism in Higher Education: Non-Majority Religious Perspectives among Entering First-Year College Students.” Religion and Education 33, 1-25.

            A growing number of today’s college students do not participate in mainstream Christian religion but claim another religious tradition. What do these students—Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Unitarian Universalists, and the nonreligious—believe about life, the sacred, and other big questions, and how do they practice their faith? Using data from a Higher Education Research Institute study, Bryant explores the great diversity in spiritual beliefs among these students. “Without question,” she writes, “members of non-majority religions contribute not merely one ‘other’ voice to the religious discourse in the U.S., but a collection of voices, each expressing its own unique perspectives, principles, and foundational ideologies and values.” The report includes an analysis of minority religion students’ political beliefs and personal ethics as well as the stability of their beliefs.

Bryant, A. N. and J. Y. Choi, et al. 2003. “Understanding the Religious and Spiritual Dimensions of Students’ Lives in the First Year of College.” Journal of College Student Development 44(6): 723-745.

            How are students changed, religiously and spiritually, by their freshman year of college? The authors look to a study that asks students a variety of questions about their religious lives at the beginning of the first college year and again at the end. The authors discuss “what religious and spiritual mean in the context of the first year of college,” and find that many students decrease participation in traditional religious activities like prayer, meditation, and going to services. Overall, however, students say that they are more committed to “integrating spirituality into their lives” at the end of the first year. The authors also note differences that result from how students spend their free time during the year and what type of college—secular or faith-based—they attend.

Cawthon, T. W. and C. Jones. 2004. “A Description of Tradition and Contemporary Campus Ministries.” College Student Affairs Journal 23(2): 158-172.

            His article provides an introduction to campus ministries. It includes brief historical and descriptive overviews of some of the most prominent “traditional” denominational ministries (Baptist Student Union, Hillel, Newman Clubs, etc.) and “contemporary” collegiate fellowships (InterVarsity, Navigators, etc.). Cawthon and Jones argue that the two types of ministries differ in the types of religious experiences they provide to students. Traditional ministries provide denominationally specific theological doctrine; multi-generational worship communities; smaller settings; and ordained leadership. Contemporary ministries, by contrast, provide eclectic and nondenominational worship styles; worship with members of their peer group; high-energy, large-group settings; and lay leadership.

Cherry, C. and B. A. DeBerg, et al. 2001. Religion on Campus: What Religion Really Means to Today’s Undergraduates. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press.

            In this book, the authors make extended visits to four very different college campuses to learn more about religious beliefs and practices on campus. The authors find many similarities in religious expression as well as some unique characteristics at each institution. Based on their research, the authors conclude that religion and spirituality are alive and well on college campuses, regardless of type, although religious expression may be more optional and pluralistic for today’s students than it was in the past.

Chickering, A. W. and J. C. Dalton, et al. 2005. Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

            This book is a resource for students, faculty, and administrators looking for strategies to integrate spirituality into college life. Part I includes essays that cover the history of spirituality in higher education, outlining the major theories (including Karen Armstrong’s view of religion and spirituality and Wayne Teasdale’s understanding of spirituality) that shape the authors’ recommendations in the rest of the book. Part II focuses on effective policies for integrating spirituality into the college curriculum, student affairs, and community partnerships. Part III features essays that offer recommendations for campus leaders and professional development. Throughout the authors provide real-life examples of successful practices and programs on campuses across the country. The appendices include useful materials such as model course syllabi and a policy statement from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Clydesdale, T. 2007. The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

            Clydesdale gives readers an inside, in-depth look at contemporary teenagers, based on first-hand observations and interviews of 50 teens during their senior year of high school and the year following. Teens’ religious identities are an important theme. The author identifies and compares three levels of religiosity among his respondents: strongly religious, semi-religious, and non-religious (including a few who are described as anti-religious). Contrary to some accounts, Clydesdale argues that semi-religious teens, who comprise the majority of American teenagers, stow religious identities in a conceptual “lockbox” until after graduation. During the first year out, the true quest for most is to “successfully navigate interpersonal relationships and manage everyday life,” rather than to develop spiritually or question their religious background.

Constantine, M. G. and M. L. Miville, et al. 2006. “Religion, Spirituality, and Career Development in African American College Students: A Qualitative Inquiry.” Career Development Quarterly 54(3): 227-241.

            The authors conduct a very small, focused study of twelve students to discover how religion and spirituality affect African American students’ ability to cope with stress and plan for a post-college career path. Building on their finding that most respondents define themselves as “spiritual, but not religious,” the authors attempt to learn more about how students understand religiosity and spirituality. They find that when considering possible careers, many students come to the task with a belief that there is a divinely ordained plan for their lives.

Darnell, A. and D. E. Sherkat. 1997. “The Impact of Protestant Fundamentalism on Educational Attainment.” American Sociological Review 62(2): 306-315.

            Darnell and Sherkat investigate whether a specific religious background, Protestant fundamentalism, affects the educational attainment of children. This segment of Christianity, whose authorities often believe that no schooling at all is preferable to secular schooling, and see “education as valueless unless it is religious in content and orientation,” is unlikely to encourage its youth to pursue secular education. Bible colleges are an alternative, yet are too expensive for many families. Therefore, the authors hypothesize that fundamentalist teenagers may not go on to earn college or graduate degrees as often as their peers from non-fundamentalist religious traditions. They test their hypothesis with data from a study that surveyed young adults three times over the course of 17 years, beginning when they were high schools seniors, and conclude that fundamentalist background does in fact hinder educational achievement.

Dillon, M. 1996. “The Persistence of Religious Identity among College Catholics.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 35(2): 165-170.

            Since Vatican II, more and more American Catholics have adopted a profile of “doctrinal selectivity,” rejecting aspects of the Church’s moral and socio-political teachings while embracing the Church’s sacramental and communal tradition. In this paper, Dillon explores whether the religious identities of Catholic students at an elite, non-denominational college reflect this larger pattern. The author bases her conclusions on results of a sample of 76 completed mail surveys. She finds that frequency of church attendance was a strong predictor of the respondents’ views on abortion, pre-marital sex, and institutionalized religion, with the “less frequent attenders” being more tolerant of pro-choice, sex before marriage, and a more expansive definition of spirituality that is not necessarily tied to religious organization. Further, “women respondents did not show a different orientation on values… than their male counterparts.”

Ecklund, E. and C. Scheitle. 2005. “Religious Differences between Natural and Social Scientists: Preliminary Results from a Study of ‘Religion Among Academic Scientists’ (RAAS).” Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

            In this working paper, Ecklund and Scheitle present preliminary findings from their survey of science faculty attitudes toward religion. Based on a survey of 1,646 faculty members at elite research institutions, they find that “those in the academy appear not to be as irreligious as some academic and popular commentators would like to think.” Although they find that 67% of natural scientists and 62% of social scientists are either atheist or agnostic, they further find that two-thirds of both types of scientists consider themselves to be spiritual. The authors conclude that “rather than leaving religion altogether, many academics have instead pieced together a personal spirituality. For some this means drawing on several different traditions in a syncretic fashion to create a purpose and meaning for life outside the self and outside pragmatic day-to-day activity.”

Edwards, M. U. 2006. A Professor’s Guide to Communities, Conflicts, and Promising

Conversations. New York: Palgrave.

            This book is a resource for faculty who are considering the place of religion in the academy and on college campuses. To minimize the risks that accompany any discussion on the issue of religious perspectives on scholarship and teaching, Edwards adopts a “conversational” approach, which not only recommends that scholars engage the issue through conversations with colleagues, but also suggests that the foremost goal should be deepened understanding rather than agreement or resolution. The book is divided into four parts. In Part I the author asks readers to consider stories about the negative consequences of religion that circulate on campuses and inside departments. Part II explores how disciplines socialize their faculty and the ways in which this process of socialization mirrors traditional religious formation. Part III asks scholars to reflect on their own personal histories and to consider why they have dedicated their lives to learning and teaching, and suggests that this self-reflection may reveal deep convictions underlying their lives as professionals. Finally, Part IV considers the legitimacy of scholarly judgment that is shaped by religious communities, as well as the unexpected ways that “academic freedom” bears on religious conviction.

Flory, R. W. and D. E. Miller, eds. 2000. Gen X Religion. New York: Routledge.

            This book offers a colorful picture of the religious engagements of “Generation X” at the turn of the millennium. The book is notable for the wide array of unusual devotional practices it unearths—sacred tattooing, Gothic clubs, megachurches, rockabilly bands, surf shops, and so forth. Each chapter is essentially an extended ethnography of the beliefs and practices of a particular religious subgroup. The contributors describe Generation X as less likely to believe that “the truth” exists, more likely to produce than to consume religion, more focused on images and experiences than words, and engaged in a quest for community and authenticity. While the book as a whole is not specifically about college students, Sharon Kim’s chapter on Korean campus ministries is an insightful portrait of collegiate evangelical life in the late 1990s.

Good, J. L. and C. Cartwright. 1998. “Development of Moral Judgment among Undergraduate University Students.” College Student Journal 32(2): 270-276.

            The authors assess the development of “moral” judgment by giving students a survey containing several ethical dilemmas. To compare different college environments, students are drawn from one public state university, one Bible College, and one Christian liberal arts university. The study suggests that the greatest moral development of students takes place during freshman and sophomore years but continues during the last two years of college. However, “the students attending the state and Christian liberal arts universities showed greater gains in principled thinking than their counterparts attending a Bible university.”

Hammond, P. E. and J. D. Hunter. 1984. “On Maintaining Plausibility: The Worldview of Evangelical College Students.” Journal for the Social Scientific Study of Religion 23: 221-238.

            Hammond and Hunter analyze how the social setting of colleges (public, private, sectarian, non-sectarian) impacts the evangelical worldviews of their students, with the aim of addressing the larger issue of how evangelicalism can be maintained in a society that is becoming increasingly secular. Using responses to a questionnaire administered at nine evangelical institutions, the authors create an “Index of evangelical Beliefs,” a tool for measuring the strength of evangelicalism of students. The authors also categorize the colleges by degree of insularity – the degree to which the schools guard against secular influences. They find that a higher percentage of students who score high on the index (i.e. are strong evangelicals) are found at the highly insulated institutions, suggesting that evangelical students are attracted to traditionally evangelical institutions (and ones with a large population of evangelical students). The authors find only modest support for the attrition hypothesis (that the strength of students’ evangelicalism declines during the college years).

Hartley, H. V., III. 2004. “How College Affects Students’ Religious Faith and Practice: A Review of Research.” College Student Affairs Journal 23(2): 111-129.

            This article reviews the literature published over a fifteen-year period (1989 to 2004) that addresses the effect of college attendance on students’ religious faith and practice. Hartley charts the findings of this research on issues such as how college changes students, how religiosity is changed, how it impacts well-being, and how students today compare in religiosity to students of the past. He also notes certain limitations of the studies done thus far that could be corrected in future research.

Harvard University Institute of Politics. 2005. Redefining Political Attitudes and Activism: A Poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Institute of Politics. (Available online at:

            This survey of 1,200 college students broadly surveys political attitudes across the country, with a focus on attitudes toward religion and morality in politics. The study provides a general denominational overview of college students, and finds that 70% say that religion plays an important role in their lives. The report concludes that students perceive a broad array of political issues as “moral issues,” and argues that “religious centrists”—who comprise 25% of college students—will be a crucial swing vote in future elections.

Higher Education Research Institute. 2004. The Spiritual Life of College Students: A National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose (Full Report). Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute at University of California, Los Angeles.

            This report provides a summary of early findings from a comprehensive, multi-year study by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). Over 112,000 first-year students at 236 colleges and universities were surveyed in the late summer and early fall of 2004, with a follow-up survey administered to those students in spring 2007. HERI’s study differs from other research on religion and higher education in its focus on the inner development of students: “the sphere of values and beliefs, emotional maturity, spirituality, and self-understanding.” Based on their findings, the researchers developed three measures of spirituality, five measures of religiousness, and four other dimensions related to spirituality and religiousness. They find that a majority of college students report high levels of spirituality, with three-fourths saying that they are “searching for purpose/meaning in life,” while 80% attended religious services in the past year. Spirituality and religiousness correspond with various behaviors: they relate generally to physical well-being (for example, highly religious and highly spiritual students are less likely to drink and smoke), and the researchers also find that there is a divide between students of different levels of spirituality and religious engagement on political views and affiliations (for example, conservatives far outnumber liberals among those students who identify as being highly religious).

Higher Education Research Institute. 2006. Spirituality and the Professoriate: A National Study of Faculty Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute at University of California, Los Angeles.

            While recent studies have focused on the religious engagements of college undergraduates, less attention has been paid to the religious engagements of their professors. What do college instructors believe and how do those beliefs impact their teaching? Researchers at the Higher Education Research Institute address this question and others in a comprehensive, multi-year study of Spirituality in Higher Education. The study’s early findings indicate that while “students are very interested in spiritual and religious matters and have high expectations for the role their institutions will play in their emotional and spiritual development,” nearly one-half are unhappy with how their college has provided “opportunities for religious/spiritual reflection.” (These findings and others are summarized in a 2004 HERI report, “The Spiritual Life of College Students: A National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose.”) Surveys were administered to over 40,000 faculty members nationwide. The data reveals many complexities. The researchers find that while over 80% of faculty consider themselves spiritual persons, less than one-third believe that “colleges should be concerned with developing students’ spiritual development.” Meanwhile, more than one-half of the faculty disagree with the statement that “the spiritual dimension of professors’ lives has no place in the academy.”

Hoge, D. R. 1974. Commitment on Campus: Changes in Religion and Values Over Five Decades. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

            In this book, Hoge presents the findings from a number of studies of religious beliefs and practices conducted among college students between 1966 and 1968. These studies replicate studies conducted between 1920 and 1950, allowing him to assess campus trends between 1920 and 1970. The findings vary considerably by university. Overall, Hoge finds considerable variation in the degree of religious orthodoxy among students, observing declining levels from 1920 to the late 1930s, an increase through the early 1950s, and then a rapid decline to 1969. He also finds that, between 1950 and 1970, “the major change has been in increased tolerance of other religious views and of religious pluralism in society.”

Hoge, D. R. and J. L. Hoge, et al. 1987. “The Return of the Fifties: Trends in College Students’ Values between 1952 and 1984.” Sociological Forum 2(3): 500-519.

            This paper finds a marked shift toward more conservative values and beliefs since the mid-1970s. Based on questionnaires distributed at Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan, the authors find that denominational affiliation, belief in God, and religious service attendance rebounded between 1974 and 1984. These religious changes are accompanied by a rise in conservative values on economic, political, and moral issues such as sex and drug use. The authors conclude that “the extreme personal conformity and political quietism of the fifties has not returned, but all the other attitudes are moving toward the fifties or have already arrived there…The interpretation that American colleges in the late 1980s are seeing a return of the fifties is correct.”

Hollinger, F. and T. B. Smith. 2002. “Religion and Esotericism among Students: A Cross-Cultural Comparative Study.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 17(2): 229-249.

            This article measures not only religious beliefs but also the prevalence of esoteric beliefs and practices among students. What affects the development and maintenance of these beliefs—environment, culture, area of study, or personal characteristics? The researchers surveyed students from different academic disciplines in North America, South America, and Europe on the topics of religious belief and practice, belief in occult subjects such as psychics and astrology, and participation in “New Age activities” from yoga practice to fortune telling. Country of residence, gender, and major all were found to impact religiosity and esoteric belief and practice.

Hunt, K. and G. Hunt. 1991. For Christ and the University: The Story of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the U.S.A. 1940-1990. Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity.

            This book provides a history of the events that shaped the first fifty years of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, beginning with events that date back to the founding of the modern university in A.D. 1090. The data comes from archival material and interviews with two hundred past and current members of InterVarsity. The authors describe how the first Christian groups in the nineteenth century, the spiritual heirs of important figures of the Great Awakening, helped shape an evangelical ethos that formed the cornerstone of InterVarsity. They go on to describe important mergers with the Student Foreign Missions Fellowship and Christian Nurses Fellowship; the challenges posed by fraternities and conservatism in the post-World War II era; the challenges of long hours and low pay for student members; and the ways in which the organization matured through the 1980s and 1990s. The authors conclude with future concerns for InterVarsity: financing ministry work, paying attention to its theological roots, and ensuring a valuable legacy for past, present, and future members.

Hunter, J. D. 1987. Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

            In this book, Hunter examines the changing landscape of American evangelicalism against the backdrop of the religion’s emergence this past century as a “global phenomenon.” The data for the book came from a research project entitled the evangelical Academy Project, which administered surveys to students and faculty at 16 evangelical colleges. Hunter interrogates several elements of evangelical life—theology, work, family, the self, and politics—and finds that its cultural traditions are changing in step with the shift towards modernity. In particular, modernity’s impact on evangelicalism’s “symbolic boundaries”—the “rules and guidelines by which ordinary people make sense of their personal lives”—comes in many forms, including a higher education system that has become more hostile towards religion, elites (clergy, priests, etc.) who are more willing to alter old traditions, and a Protestant politics that is increasingly more liberal. For these reasons, Hunter voices his pessimism about the future of conservative Protestantism in America.

Ingram, L. C. 1986. “Sectarian Colleges and Academic Freedom.” Review of Religious Research 27(4): 300-314.

            Can colleges provide a “Christian education” while also promoting academic freedom in their classes?  Using data from an assortment of college publications (catalogues, student and faculty handbooks) as well as interviews with students, faculty, and administrators at six Christian colleges, Ingram seeks to shed light on the “ambiguous sectarian stance” these colleges take “of seeking both worldly success and religious devotion.”  According to the Mayer Zald’s framework for organizational change, change in an organization is the result of the interaction among variables in the organization’s polity—the agreements which define the goals of the organization, as well as the responsibilities and rights of its members—and its economy—the division of labor, the way resources are allocated for accomplishing tasks, etc. While a majority of the colleges had a statement endorsing academic freedom, Ingram finds that “academic freedom is not intended to interfere with the emphasis on sectarian identification but is rather to be limited by the goals of providing intensive socialization in a protective environment.”

Jablonski, M., ed. 2001. Implications of Student Spirituality for Student Affairs Practice: New Directions for Student Services, No. 95. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

            This special edition of New Directions for Student Services contains a collection of articles examining the role of spirituality in the theory and practice of student affairs. The articles address the theoretical connections between spirituality and student development; the role of spirituality in career exploration; models for infusing spirituality into student affairs practice; the role of law in shaping the possibilities for a more spiritual student affairs; the role of spirituality in staff training; the role of spirituality in graduate education in student affairs; reflections on the role of spirituality in higher education; and an annotated bibliography.

Jacobsen, D. and R. H. Jacobsen, eds. Forthcoming. The American University in a Postsecular Age: Religion and Higher Education. New York, Oxford University Press.

            The fourteen essays in this edited volume cover a wide range of topics concerning religion and the academy. The first half focuses on questions about how faculty understand religiosity and the institutional setting in which they do so. The second half addresses religion in the curriculum and how faculty members deal with religious students. While the book does not promote any particular point of view, the essayists are generally favorably disposed toward the new concept of post-secularity” emerging in higher education. Generally, the contributors confront the complexities and trade-offs inherent in each approach to engaging (or not) with religion, and shy away from any “one-size-fits-all” answers.

Jaschik, S. 2006. “The ‘Great Divide’ in Religious Studies.” Inside Higher Ed. 20 November 2006. (Available online:

            This article presents a preview of findings from Barbara Walvoord’s national survey of faculty and students in introductory religious studies courses. Walvoord finds a “great divide between what professors want to accomplish and what students want to achieve.” Faculty members at both religious and secular colleges are most concerned with developing critical thinking skills. Their students, by contrast, are more interested in learning concrete information about religious groups, developing their moral and ethical values, and having conversations about “big questions” and the meaning of life. Jaschik’s article concludes with comments from various religious studies faculty, who discuss their experiences negotiating the balance between fostering critical thinking and enabling spiritual growth.

Kennedy, E. J. and L. Lawton. 1998. “Religiousness and Business Ethics.” Journal of Business Ethics 17: 163-175.

            Kennedy and Lawton seek to establish a relationship between “unethical” behavior and religion, major, and/or type of college attended (secular, Catholic, or Baptist) among college students. Students from four different universities are surveyed about their religious orientation and attitudes, then asked to rate their likelihood of behaving unethically in several different hypothetical business situations. The researchers found that less willingness by evangelical Christian students to participate in unethical behaviors. They also found that certain religious orientations affected students’ indications of behavior. College major and type of college, however, were not found to be relevant to ethical behavior.

Kim, R. Y. 2004. “Second-Generation Korean American Evangelicals: Ethnic, Multiethnic, or White Campus Ministries?” Sociology of Religion 65(1):19-34.

            The recent growth in Asian American enrollment in colleges has been accompanied by a surge in the number of Asian American campus evangelicals. Yet, when presented with the choice, why do second-generation Korean American college students (SGKAs) choose to participate in ethnic campus ministries over more inclusive congregations? To answer this question, Kim engaged in participant observation at five ministries at a large university, and later conducted over 100 interviews with student members and staff involved with these ministries. Based on her data, Kim argues that three factors are responsible for the drawing of separate ethnic group boundaries: first, the students’ “desire for community” interacts “with changes in ethnic density and diversity”; the students simply have “more opportunity to participate in separate ethnic religious organizations in an ethnically dense and diverse structural setting.” Second, there is a strong “propensity to interact with those who are most familiar and similar. Third, “the desire for power and majority status” interacts “with the marginalization of individuals categorized as belonging to a particular ethnic or racial group.” In other words, SGKAs, who find “that they are continuously marginalized as an ethnic/racial minority and lack relative power,” thus seek “benefits and privileges that the white majority enjoys.”

Kim, R. Y. 2006. God’s New Whiz Kids? Korean American Evangelicals on Campus. New York: NYU Press.

            This book expands on Kim’s 2004 study of second-generation Korean American students (SGKAs) on college campuses. As that study and other recent reports have shown, Asian American college students constitute a sizeable and influential proportion of evangelical Christian campus groups across the country. The number of Asian American members of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship alone has increased by 267 percent in the past fifteen years. Kim examines the growing participation of U.S.-born Korean American students (who, along with Chinese Americans, form the vast majority of Asian American college evangelicals) in evangelical campus groups with the aim of addressing several issues: first, why SGKAs regularly choose to join exclusive evangelical campus groups over more inclusive ones; second, how SGKA evangelical groups compare with those of first-generation Korean-Americans; third, how the evangelical identities of SGKAs are shaped by interactions with the broader ethnic community and broader evangelical community; and finally, how SGKAs deal with challenges that emerge from the tension between ethnic separation and religious universalism. Kim rejects assimilation and retention explanations and argues instead that SGKAs are adopting an emergent, “made in the U.S.A.” ethnicity (see Kim 2004 for another discussion of this “emergent identity.”)