Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students Inner Lives

What promotes spiritual development in college students? The list might be both familiar and surprising:

1. Study abroad- enhances students' levels of equanimity, ethic of caring, and ecumenical worldview.

2. Interdisciplinary studies- promotes charitable involvement, and appreciation of subtleties

3. Service learning- Enhances spiritual questing, especially when linked with academic coursework

4. Philanthropic giving- This one enhances each and every spiritual quality, and is probably the least emphasized. I'm convinced we need to be teaching college students stewardship, especially financial stewardship.

5. Interracial interaction- increases cognitive complexity, ethic of caring and ecumenical worldview.

6. Leadership training- This is the one that gets a ton of attention already.

7. Contemplative practices- These are among the most powerful tools at our disposal for enhancing students spiritual development (148).

"One of the surest ways to enhance the spiritual development of undergraduate students is to encourage them to engage in almost any form of charitable or altruistic giving" (147).

Disclaimer: If you read this book, be forewarned that is more a scholarly summary of research than an engaging literary text. If you've read research studies in research journals, you'll be familiar with the tone of the writing and approach. It's not bad, just "like that." Be prepared.

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