Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality in Higher Education by Arthur Chickering, et al.

As of late, spirituality has been the hot topic in higher education. In the past decade, researchers have found that college students are hungry for a spiritual aspect in their college experience and student affairs professionals have worked tirelessly to provide a sense of authenticity and meaning on their campuses. Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality is one the first comprehensive resources created to address this growing desiring for spirituality in high education.

“The majority of Americans today consider their own religious narratives as evolving, open-ended and revisable. Religious authority lies in the individual believer.”

If you know the history of higher education in this country then you know the history of spirituality. The first colleges founded in America were specifically created by the church for the church and this remained the status quo for generations. Once the industrial revolution erupted, things changed quickly. The world quickly became smaller. Technological advancements moved at lightning speeds. Society was forever changed and colleges adapted.

The focus on faith and religion quickly faded. The common narrative implies that colleges abandoned religion in pursuit of science, however the separation was quite neutral. Churches had a unique and particular focus while colleges explored all avenues of arts and science. But as we saw over the past few decades, religion has become somewhat unwelcomed or ostracized on college campuses.

In Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality, the authors set out to find the common the ground, to discover how the whole human works. “Learning is a whole person, whole brain activity. Intellect and emotion are inseparable.”

Each chapter is written by a well-respected expert in the field of higher education. Each chapter offers a special piece to the puzzle of spirituality in higher education: dynamics, policy concerns, history, integration, assessment, leadership, etc.

It is a very good resource for the higher education professional. I really hope colleges and universities across the country begin to take spiritual development more seriously. Working in Christian higher education, I take spiritual development for granted instead of asking tougher questions. We need to explore spiritual development as a community of learners, and then we can finally discover what is true.

"Our ultimate aim is to use knowledge as a source of inspiration for ourselves and other and to improve the world in which we live."

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