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Lutheran Campus Ministry Research Project:

Literature Summary


The Lutheran Campus Ministry Research Project began its investigation of related literature guided by three questions:

  1. What goes on in the “real lives” of college and university students?
  2. What’s happening with the “role(s)” of campus ministry, most especially during this era of disruption in higher education?
  3. What is faithful, effective and sustainable Lutheran Campus Ministry particularly during these times of reduction in traditional sources of support?

The investigation of literature related to these materials quickly raised two other questions:

  1. What is faithful, effective and sustainable young adult ministry…to which campus ministry is closely related, perhaps even a subset? and,
  2. What theological perspectives inform the views and conversations regarding campus ministry, and the place of religion and spirituality in higher education?

Therefore, this presentation of annotated literature is organized within five “domains:”

Domain 1: The Lives of Young Adults

Domain 2: Theological Perspectives Informing Campus Ministry

Domain 3: Ministry with Young Adults

Domain 4: The Role of Campus Ministry at Colleges and Universities

Domain 5: Campus Ministry

Further, upon tracking and analyzing material in the five domains, clusters of literature present themselves in each domain within “frameworks of information” related to faithful, effective and sustainable Lutheran Campus Ministry.  Therefore, the annotated literature is more specifically organized in each domain within those frameworks.

Domain 1: The Lives of Young Adults

A. Emerging Adulthood

Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen. Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens through the Twenties. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Arnett offers a definitive reinterpretation of the life stage from the late teens through the mid-to-late twenties called emerging adulthood. He outlines and describes in rich detail the five main features of this life stage: identity explorations, instability, self-focused, feeling in-between, and hopefulness (or possibilities). His insights and research findings (both quantitative and qualitative) help explain why this new stage came to be in the most recent generations of the industrialized world. His chapter on sources of meaning is especially helpful to our present work.

Tanner, Jennifer L. “Mental Health in Emerging Adulthood,” Faith Formation Learning Exchange,, 2010.

Tanner gives a very concise overview of common mental health problems of emerging adults. She notes that this life stage is, in aggregate, characterized by improved mental health. However, for those who are at-risk for mental health disorders (especially those with trauma or mental health in childhood or adolescence), there is increased risk. She notes why emerging adults are less likely to seek or receive professional help and suggests ways to correct these societal shortfalls. She includes a valuable annotated bibliography at the end of her piece.

Hill, Jonathan P. Emerging Adulthood and Faith. Grand Rapids: Calvin College Press, 2015.

Hill offers this short pamphlet in response to several popular assumptions and conclusions about emerging adult religion, especially addressing the purported secularizing effects of college and science education. He uses data primarily from the GSS, arguing that past trends do not hold true. In contrast to past data, there are signs that some recent students actually deepen their faith during college. He warns against subscribing to the dominant scripts of general decline, demonstrating how the picture is much more complex than a line graph.

B. Generational Changes: Millennials and Generation Z

Howe, Neil and William Strauss. Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. New York: Vintage Books, 2000.

Howe and Strauss delve deeply into generational theory to explain why the pundits of the late 1990s have misrepresented and underestimated the Millennial generation. They paint an optimistic view of the Millennials and predict great things to come (a new hero generation), supporting their argument with quantitative and qualitative data, but mostly focusing on history through generational perspective. The main take-away for our study is cautionary: do not underestimate or foreclose on the upcoming generation, no matter what the popular literature claims.

Wuthnow, Robert. After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings are Shaping the Future of American Religion. Princeton University Press, 2007

Wuthnow presents an extensive quantitative study of overall trends in religion using US census and GSS data. His major insight is that the younger generations have shifted from a settled understanding of religion to something that he describes as tinkering. His tables offer a wealth of data for any historical comparison of generational differences regarding religion from the 1970s through 2002, essentially comparing the religious practices/beliefs of the Baby Boomers to those of the youngest Generation Xers and the oldest Millennials. His inclusion of those under 45 as young adults is problematic for our consideration of college students.

Williams, Alex. “Move Over Millennials, Here Comes Generation Z.” New York Times,, 2015.

Williams discusses generation theory and approaches the youngest cohort of Americans through a marketing perspective, addressing the specific changes (mostly anecdotal) between those currently in their 20s and those in their teens. He notes that appearances suggest so far that members of Generation Z are more pragmatic, more prudent, and more aware of dangers in the world than their Millennial counterparts. He notes the strong similarities with those from the Silent Generation.

Northeastern University, “Innovation Imperative: Meet Generation Z: Taking the Pulse of America’s Emerging Generation,”, 2014. *****

This study of 16-19 year-olds was conducted in fall 2014. The report offers a content-rich snapshot of this age cohort’s views on higher education, American society/culture, technology, and their role in the economy/workforce. They place a high value on college education in an adapted format (more say in the degree programs, more practical experience, better integration of technology), though they are by and large interested in the traditional on-campus college experience. One of the article’s main concerns is the financial illiteracy of this age cohort.

Seemiller, Corey and Meghan Grace. Generation Z goes to College. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016. (*****)

Seemiller and Grace provide very fresh and relevant data about current college students, with an emphasis on those at large universities. Their sample is robust, though not generalizable to the population. Their reliance on generational theory leads them towards generalizations that they simply cannot claim with their data set. They also have a questionable and disputed delineation of Generation Z (placing the earliest in 1995), which adds to the impression that they are trying to be the first ones to publish about the new generation. That being said, their insights offer deep perspective of the views of current college students, including how they and their parents differ from the students and parents of a decade ago. Technology features prominently in the discussion, as does changing social norms. The discussion of religion is very sparse.

C. Digital and Networked Lives

Thompson, Clive. “Brave new World of Digital Intimacy,” New York Times (September 2008).

This article is not very helpful, unless we do a short historiography of views on social media. This shows, more than anything, a snapshot of a social commentator trying to make sense of the new reality of social media use. He notes that the iPhone just came out and wonders what effect that might have. He charts his bumbling introduction to Twitter and Facebook. He loosely connects his arguments to sociology literature (Putnam and Boyd). His main argument is that the sheer amount of information provided through social media is similar to what sociologists have called ambient awareness. He tries out a couple new terms, among them ambient intimacy, to describe the intimate details that are coming in such great quantities across social media feeds.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic, 2011.

Turkle paints an alarmist, Orwellian picture of the rise of robotics and social networks, warning that our very humanity is at stake. Getting past the hyperbole, there are genuine concerns that need to be addressed but precious little consideration of the potential positive outcomes. She presents these technologies as slippery slopes leading steadily to the pit of dystopia. They look good and feel good, but they are taking over our lives and replacing genuine, face-to-face relationships with shallow, virtual, or entirely computer-based relationships. She works at MIT and focuses much of her attention on the ethics of robotics. Her cautions may be most relevant there. (Born in 1948.)

Boyd, Danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. (*****)

Boyd coins the term networked publics to describe the social spaces in which teens operate. “They are simultaneously the space constructed through networked technologies and the imagined community that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice” (p. 8). She grounds her descriptions in rich data from detailed observations of teen spaces and 166 semi-structured interviews conducted with teens between 2007 and 2010. She tackles many of the critical views that writers have taken toward technology use, arguing that many of the fears are unfounded and alarmist, while others are very real (e.g. cyber bullying) but not unexpected or drastically different from historical teenage behavior. Teen use of online social media is an adaption to a connected and technological world. (Boyd was born in 1977.)

Rainie, Lee and Barry Wellman. Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. (*****)

Rainie and Wellman paint an optimistic picture of the steady and inevitable rise of technology in American society. They dismiss the critiques of how technology has adversely affected relational interaction, instead asserting that a triple revolution (social networks, internet, and mobile devices) has enhanced and supplemented relational interaction. They argue that new technological devices are becoming seamlessly integrated into people’s everyday lives and relationships. They explore potential dangers of these cultural shifts, including addressing the various doomsayers, but the main thrust of their argument is that there is much more reason to be hopeful than pessimistic.

Rainie, Lee and Barry Wellman. “Networked Individualism: What in the World is That?” PewInternet Blog., 2012.

Raine and Wellman operated an active blog for about 18 months as part of the rollout of their popular book. This opening post provides a succinct summary of their main arguments. Subsequent blog posts keep the data fresh by relating them to the ever-changing world.

D. Religiosity and Spirituality

Denton-Borhaug, Kelly. “The complex and Rich Landscape of Student Spirituality.” Wellesy College Bulletin 781-283-1000 (*****)

Working from a spirituality survey conducted at Goucher College combined with discoveries from several other major national studies (Spirituality in Higher Education and CIRP0), Denton-Borhaug digs deeply into the shifts that are taking place among student religious and spiritual practices and beliefs. Based on her discovery of the complex portrait of student spirituality, Denton-Borhaug makes three recommendations: 1) Continue to support religious/ spiritual life organizations and increase opportunities for multi-faith dialogue, learning and appreciation; 2) Develop a broader, more diverse panoply of spiritual grow opportunities that are non-religious specific; and 3) Improve religious/spiritual life spaces to accommodate and further student spiritual growth. Denton-Borhaug deftly utilizes two metaphors to describe ministry with these university students: “open-ended journeys,” and “rooted and growing plants.” Exceptional article and survey.

Flory, Richard and Donald Miller. Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008.

Flory and Miller present their findings from a large qualitative study of religious beliefs among Christians between the ages of 20 and 40 (essentially comprising Generation X and early Millennials). They avoid the large generalizations of generation theory and reject the simple bifurcation of spiritual or religious. They present a typology of religious beliefs that they found present in this age cohort: innovators, appropriators, resisters, and reclaimers. They argue that some of the major themes common across the typologies include a quest for embodied spirituality and community. They propose the emergence of a fifth type, which they coin as “expressive communalism” (playing off of Bellah’s “expressive individualism”).

Kosmin, Barry A. and Ariela Keysar. “Religious, Spiritual and Secular: The Emergence of Three Distinct Worldviews Among American College Students.” American Religious Identification Survey, Hartford: Trinity College, 2013.

We should use this report with great caution. The data come from a national sample of 1,873 college students at public and private universities, though generalizability is in question. The entire report is based on a question that had students differentiate themselves between 3 worldviews: secular, spiritual, and religious. All of the data are delineated along those lines without adequate consideration of demographic differences or specific religious traditions. The authors conclude that the data they collected justifies their categorization, which is highly questionable and certainly disputed in the literature. What these data may show most clearly for our study is how problematic it is to assume distinct religious categories for current college students.

Smith, Christian. Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood. New York: Oxford University, 2011. (*****)

Smith delves deeply into the qualitative data from the 3rd wave of the NSYR (2008), focusing specifically on the problematic or troubling viewpoints and experiences of emerging adults. The five major themes he addresses include moral relativism, increasing consumerism, substance abuse (particularly alcohol), sexual misconduct or promiscuity, and civic disengagement. He examines the sociological effects of the problems associated with these five themes and offers suggestions for how societal leaders can address these concerns, with one of his most urgent arguments being that there should be more connection and engagement between emerging adults and older adults.

Smith, Christian and Patricia Snell. Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. New York: Oxford University, 2009.

Smith offers detailed analysis of the 3rd wave of the NSYR, tracing the religious trajectory of young people into their emerging adult years through an enormous mixed-method longitudinal study. The subjects are young people born between 1985 and 1990. The analysis traces the factors that contribute to faith retention from adolescence through emerging adulthood and characterizes the markers of religiosity in this age cohort. Smith steers decidedly away from generation theory but delves deeply into various cultural contexts and specific cultural structures that may influence the cohort as a whole. Smith maintains the argument from the earlier book Soul Searching that the overall story of religion in young people is more of continuity than a break from their past experiences and upbringing.

E. Academic and Campus Life

Clydesdale, Tim. The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. (*****)

Clydesdale offers an extensive qualitative analysis of high school seniors making the transition to their first year of college between 1995 and 2004. He notes the importance of popular moral culture in shaping the way young people navigate this crucial time, arguing that their main focus is on managing the many responsibilities and tasks expected of them, causing the majority to leave religious and political views aside in an identity lockbox. He argues that their life trajectory is largely set long before actually launching to college, mostly by the values present in their family of origin and local community.

American College Health Association. “American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2014.” Hanover, MD: American College Health Association, 2014.

Very rich data set of more than 79,000 college students. Nationally representative. Clear report with easy to find statistics on a range of health concerns, including physical activity, eating behavior, sexual behavior, drug/alcohol use, mental/physical health, and stress/trauma. No commentary or interpretation, just statistics.

F. Neurological and Psychological Perspectives

Siegel, Daniel J. The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. New York: Guilford Press, 2012.

Siegel is the foremost expert in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology, which combines the insights from psychology (attachment theory) with the emerging findings of neurology. He posits that the mind itself is emergent from the interaction of the embodied brain and relationships with other embodied brains. That is, the human mind only exists in relationship to other minds. Siegel examines memory, emotion, states of mind, and the construction of reality.

Domain 2: Theological Perspectives Informing Ministry

A. Lutheran Theology

“What We Do and Why It’s Important: A Theological Framework for Lutheran Campus Ministry in the ELCA, by James L. Norlie, 2014 (*****)

This paper is an “unofficial” theological framework for Lutheran Campus Ministry in the ELCA. It grounds ministry in the Gospel of Jesus, cites primary trajectories of ministry to campus communities and argues strongly its value to church and society.  While acknowledging that each campus ministry is unique to its time, place and participants, it argues common convictions exercised to fulfill a common calling to robust Lutheran ministry on universities and college campuses early in the 21st Century.

The Book of Concord, Edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert, 1993

“The Work of a Christian: Vocation in a Lutheran Perspective,” by Kathryn Kleinhaus, Word and World, 2005

Working for Our Neighbors: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics and Ordinary Life, By Gene Veith, 2016 (*****)

B. Contemporary Theological Exploration

Grounded: Finding God in the World, A Spiritual Revolution, by Diana Butler Bass,  New York: Harper One, 2015. (*****)

Bass offers a hopeful perspective of the changing religious landscape, dialoguing with theologians, recent research, and individuals she interviewed. Her thesis is that widespread disaffiliation from religion is part of a spiritual revolution that is deepening the faith lives of American people, even as it is straining the institutional church. One of the major shifts that she identifies is from a fixation on a distant God in heaven to the personal, incarnate God working in the present world.

Christianity After Religion, by Diana Butler Bass, 2010

A New Kind of Christianity, by Brian McLaren, 2010

Why Did Jesus, Moses and The Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christianity in a Multi-Faith World, by Brian McLaren, 2012 (*****)

A Generous Orthodoxy, by Brian McLaren, 2004.

God, Sexuality and the Self, by Sarah Coakley, 2013

Pastrix, The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner Saint, by Nadia Bolz-Weber, 2013 (****)

The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, by Phyllis Tickle, 2012.

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, by Shane Claiborne, 2006.

C. Theological Understandings of Pluralism and Inter-Faith Relationships

Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice & the Promise of America, Eboo Patel, 2012 (****)

Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith and Mission, by Harold Netland, 2001

The Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion

Domain 3: Ministry with Young Adults

A. Faith Literacy and the Decline of Institutional Religion

Drescher, Elizabeth. Choosing our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. (*****)

Drescher’s dialogues with a wide array of scholarly voices from sociology, psychology, and philosophy to develop a multidimensional portrait of those collectively referred to as Nones. She largely rejects this moniker, arguing that it is largely unhelpful and misleading for a variety of reasons. She uses rich interview data and some of her own quantitative data in combination with the literature to reveal the complexity of religiosity among the Nones. The main commonality among these groups seems to be choice and individual agency that many feel is subverted in institutional religion or in the constant quest to fit groups of people in labels (including the label “none”). Drescher’s research reveals the sometimes deep spirituality and religiosity of those classified as Nones. As a whole, she finds that relationships and networks are prioritized over institutions and ideologies.

B. Changing Ministry Practices

Edwards, Kay, Mary Reinders, Kerry Bural, and Jon De Master. “Engaging Millennials in Ministry: National Research Study of Effective Ministry Models,” Report on research commissioned by the Siebert Lutheran Foundation and Kern Family Foundation, September 2015. (*****)

This research project included an extensive literature review and a set of 50 qualitative interviews with ministry leaders and thinkers. The report summarizes findings from the literature review and directly relates them to responses and themes from the interviews. The authors propose an 8-part typology of religious engagement among Millennials that is neither directional nor exclusive: scoffers, philosophers, samplers, servers, tribers, leaders, believers, and disciplers. The writers take a hopeful stance, identifying success stories and outlining points for ministry leaders to consider when engaging Millennials who are in the various categories of engagement.

Faith Formation Learning Exchange: “Young Adult Research Studies: Reports and Books,”


This is an excellent resource to connect with a wide range of studies and articles about emerging adult religiosity. It is an interactive annotated bibliography.

Roberto, John. “Faith Formation with Emerging Adults: Congregational Practices.” Lifelong Faith, 2010.

Roberto ably summarizes the major findings of emerging adult spirituality in the literature. He then explains how congregations can adjust their ministries to engage this age cohort. A sizeable portion of the article contains case descriptions of congregations that successfully engage emerging adults through various ministries.

Setran, David P. and Chris A. Kiesling. Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood: A Practical Theology for College and Young Adult Ministry. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013.

Satran and Kiesling dialogue with social science research, psychology, and theology to offer strategies for engaging emerging adults in ministry. They dialogue with a broad range of literature and offer an Evangelical-leaning interpretation of the state of emerging adult ministry. They tackle the issues of identity development, vocation, sexual morality, and relationships in turn, ultimately lifting up the importance of mentoring relationships in ministry with this age cohort. Their work represents some of the best practical theology scholarship on college/young adult ministry from an Evangelical perspective.

Stetzer, Ed, Richie Stanley and Jason Hayes. Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and Churches that Reach Them, 2009 (*****)

Stetzer, et al, focus primarily on the practices and the ministry of churches that are significantly engaging young people. Primary in those practices and ministry are: depth in relationships; addressing real questions; substantive reflection on scripture; authentic preaching; and faith issues arising for day to day living. Engagement in service, accompaniment during crises and participation in ancient tradition are among most often cited activities.

Barna Group, “5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church,”, 2013.

This Barna Group brief summarizes some of the major findings of the Faith that Lasts project (2007-2012) and offers a large amount of quantitative data in a compact, easy-to-read format. This is largely a summary of the research presented in Kinnamon’s You Lost Me, with a special emphasis on the youth who stay involved with church long-term. Relationships, cultural discernment, youth ownership/agency, vocational/missional connection, and relationship with Jesus are the 5 factors highlighted. The brief is positively tinted and directly responds to the critiques leveled in the popular Rachel Held Evans piece.

Barna Group, “What Millennials Want when they Visit Church,”, 2015.

This Barna Group brief draws from a quantitative study conducted in Fall 2013. The brief focuses on describing Millennials’ reasons for attending or not attending church services. It is a data-heavy report with a few practical suggestions about interacting with young church visitors. The brief is colored positively, emphasizing the opportunities for engaging Millennials rather than focusing on the negatives. The main take-away is that this cohort of young people as a whole values authenticity much more than shiny packaging or marketing. They come to church to learn about God and grow in faith, not to see the cool new trends.

Evans, Rachel Held. “Why Millennials are Leaving the Church,” CNN Belief Blog (July 2013).

This short blog post drew a sizeable readership and prompted responses and critiques from the Evangelical community, at whom much of Evan’s criticism is leveled. One response is the Barna brief “5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church.” Evans speaks for a large cohort of young Americans who want a more authentic, not more hip, Christianity. “We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.” (Born in 1981

C. Emergent Churches and Traditionalist

Hein, James. “Millennials and the Gospel: Ministering to a Discontinuously Different Generation,” 2014.

Hein is a WELS pastor in Milwaukee and blogger. This well-written essay demonstrates an ability to engage with the literature through a distinctly WELS lens. He speaks broadly and generally condescendingly about Millennials. His response to the cultural trends that he summarizes is to propose strategies for engaging Millennials, largely using their cultural characteristics as leverage (that may be uncharitable, but certainly no less so than he is to an entire age cohort).

D. Ministry Sensibilities: Realistic Hope, Authenticity and Personal Agency

Groome, Thomas. Will There be Faith: A New Vision for Educating and Growing Disciples, 2011.

While starkly honest about the great many difficulties surrounding faith and belief, especially for Roman Catholics, Groome argues that moving from “life to faith to life” leads Christians to a “journey” of substantive engagement with both current realities and the heart of the gospel that are deeply impactful.  A strong call for authenticity and working faith as it addresses daily life.

E. Pluralism, Secularism, and Inter-Faith Relationships

Guest, Matthew, Kristin Aune, Sonya Sharma and Rob Warner. Christianity and the University Experience: Understanding Student Faith, 2013. (*****)

This thorough UK study investigates the ways Christianity is lived and experienced by university students.  It chronicles the great many diverse ways in which students believe and practice Christianity in a largely secular academic culture and a secular and pluralistic society.  The researchers discover that complexities, contradictions and conflict are prevalent among the many fragile and many robust beliefs and commitments. While done in England, the excellent methodology and its resultant empirical data can well-inform any future US study of student faith and spirituality.

Kinnaman, David. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011.

Kinnaman provides insights based on an immense amount of data gathered by Barna about young adult religiosity. He especially focuses on those who have walked away from the church as young adults, using three broad categories of disengagement: nomads, prodigals, and exiles. He uses the young people’s own words to characterize the dominant negative views they hold of church: overprotective, shallow, anti-science, repressive, exclusive, and doubtless. His critiques are followed by practical suggestions for how churches can engage young adults.

Wuthnow, Robert. America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity. Princeton University Press, 2005.

Wuthnow focuses here on the interaction of American Christians with non-Christians, raising a myriad of cultural and social factors. The data is rich and the discussion is well thought out. He grounds his discussion historically, showing how America as a cultural whole has long seen itself as a diverse nation, but he notes that this understanding of diversity is being challenged as it expands from diverse forms of Christianity to truly other religions. He makes a distinction between diversity and pluralism, arguing that the “rank and file” among American society have much work to do in terms of acceptance, partnership, and true pluralism.

F. Cyber-Realities and Practices

Zirschky, Andrew. Beyond the Screen, Youth Ministry for the Connected but Alone Generation, 2015 (*****)

Zirschky explores young people’s search via technology for intimacy and in-depth relationships largely missing in society and most particularly in the church. In doing so he provides a deeper glimpse into young people’s worlds, especially their world of social media. He contrasts “networked individualism” with, and gives direction for ministry informed by, the dynamics of a Christian understanding of “koinonia,” a strong communal reality grounded in a sense of belonging (being deeply known, accepted and accompanied) that is not contingent upon their value. Zirschky writes: “For youth in a networked culture, the ultimate answer to their fears and anxieties in to the network they create, but a community that embraces and includes them as its own (where) teenagers are able to realize that they are not loved and valued because they are good enough, but because God’s love is enough.”

Domain 4: The Role of Campus Ministry at Colleges & Universities

A. Historical Background

Jacobsen, Douglas and Rhonda Husedt. The American University in a Post Secular Age, 2008. (*****)

These 14 essays edited by the Jacobsen’s is a state-of-the-art discussion of the place of religion in higher education.  It investigates the key questions: How religious or irreligious are students? What level of student religious literacy should be expected? Can religion and religious questions be in classrooms without being disruptive? Is religion antithetical to critical inquiry? Can religion have a positive role in higher education? The editors and their contributors provide a comprehensive framework for this ongoing discussion.

Marsden, George. The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Non-Belief, 1994

An early, widely regarded exploration of the history of the relationship of religion and academia. Chronicles the movement of colleges’ and universities’ relationships with religion from sectarian, to non-sectarian, to exclusively secular. Argues that much of academia sees non-belief as the only valid academic perspective. Author’s thesis: “religious perspectives can provide legitimate contributions to the highest levels of scholarship.”

Wuthnow, Robert. “Can Faith be More Than a Sideshow in the Contemporary Academy,” in Post-Secular College: A New Place for Religion in the University, edited by Douglas and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, 2007. (*****)

A chronicle of the history of the role of faith in academia. The author presents three options regarding the possibilities for a current role of faith on campus: Accommodation (becoming a participant in the full-bodied search for truth); Resistance (becoming a critical, prophetic voice in a pagan wilderness); and Intentional Reframing (working the “middle way” of humbly, intentionally asking essential provocative questions. The author presents the potential contributions of all three approaches. 

B. A New Era of Religion and Spirituality in Higher Education

Astin, Alexander, Helen Astin, and Jennifer Lindholm. Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Student’s Inner Lives, 2011. (*****)

Reports the findings of a seven-year, comprehensive study of spirituality among college student and; draws conclusions from these findings regarding the role of spirituality in these students’ development. It identifies 5 patterns of spirituality and 5 patterns of religiousness manifested in the study. It asserts that during students’ years in college religious engagement declines, but spirituality shows substantial growth and enhances outcomes in college students.

Kuh, George and Robert Gonyea. “Spirituality, Liberal Learning and College Engagement,” 2006.

Works data drawn from the National Study of Student Engagement (NSSE); finds three patterns in the data: 1) students who engage in religious activities also participate in a broad spectrum of college activities; 2) institutional mission and campus culture matter the most in developing spirituality and liberal learning; and 3) students at faith-based colleges participate and gain more from religious activities, but participate less in other activities associated with positive liberal learning outcomes.)

Jacobsen, Rhonda Hustedt and Douglas Jacobsen. No Longer Invisible, 2012. (*****)

The Jacobsens view modern universities’ re-engaging matters of faith to be both a positive and necessary educational development. Their descriptions of “Historic Religion,” “Public Religion,” and “Personal Religion,” become a new framework for understanding the emerging religious terrain on campuses in a manner that can be effectively attended and engaged. Within this frame, they posit six “sites of engagement:” 1) religious literacy; 2) interfaith etiquette; 3) framing knowledge; 4) civic engagement; 5) convictions; and 6) character and vocation. This substantive, succinct, clear and substantive work, is at the center of a conversation reflected in a great many reviews and online conversations.

Mahoney, Kathleen, John Schmalzbauer, James Youniss. “Religion: A Comeback on Campus,” 2001.

A chronicle of the decline and resurgence of the role of religion in academic life. Drawing on data from a two-year study, identifies the resurgence beginning in the 1990’s. It’s primary thesis: “As the twentieth century closed and the twenty-first century opened, religion laid claim to a larger place in the public square of American intellectual life,” including academic life.  Cites a broad spectrum of data to support this argument.

C. Strategies for Working Religion and Spirituality on Campus

Cherry, Conrad, Betty Deberg, and Amanda Porterfield. “Religion on Campus: What Religion Really Means to Today’s Undergraduates,” 2001.

A small ethnographic study of 4 very different regional colleges including a large university; the study was designed to investigate how students understand, practice and learn abut religion.  The study challenges theories about the secularization of student attitudes and practices; it reveals that the practice and study of religion are thriving on these four campus marked by cultures of religious and spiritual diversity, tolerance and choice.

Chickering, Arthur, Jon Dalton, and Liesa Stamm. “Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality in Higher Education,” 2006. (*****)

A comprehensive resource…theoretical, strategic and practical…supporting the growing movement of incorporating spirituality as an important aspect of the meaning and practice of higher education. The authors present practical ways of knowing, being and doing that can be integrated into college and university curricula, student affairs, community partnerships and assessment. Illustrative promising practices are cited throughout.

Love, Patrick and Donna Talbot. “Defining Spiritual Development: A Missing Consideration for Student Affairs,” 1999.

The authors argue for consideration of spiritual development by student developmental theorists.  As they do so, they importantly provide a definition and framework though which to consider spirituality and spiritual development. They utilize these definitions to examine major young adult developmental theorists and provide directions for college and university practice s and future research.

Stewart, Dafina, Michael Kolcet, and Sharon Lobdell. “The Multi-faith Campus: Transforming Colleges and Universities for Spiritual Engagement,“  2011. (****)

The authors are convinced that “the question for the twenty-first century must not be “How to accommodate… religious diversity in the academy…the question must be instead, “How do religion and spirituality enhance the education of our students.” Given this conviction, they explore what college and university campuses would look like if transformed to promote and sustain religious and secular pluralism and inter-faith cooperation.

Domain 5: Campus Ministry

A. Lutheran Campus Ministry Currently

Romsa, Don. “ELCA Campus Ministry Annual Report,” Fall 2015. (*****)

This succinct, clearly-written report of LCM demographic information and ministry activities is a “window” into the current realities of Lutheran Campus Ministry.  The report’s ten ministry “highlights” section is essential to understanding the present status of Lutheran Campus Ministry on large college and university campuses. These ten highlights also represent existing, particular ministry clusters that are potential areas of inquiry in any study of the current and future possibilities of Lutheran Campus Ministry.

Lutheran Campus Ministry Annual Report 2015-2016 Survey; Responses to 2015-2016 Lutheran Campus Ministry Survey; Statistical Summary of 2015-2016 Lutheran Campus Ministry Survey (*****)

This survey, its questions and the large body of responses, are critical foundational materials for initiating any study of Lutheran Campus Ministry.  The questions provide potential survey and interview issues and questions; the rich, thick, broad-based and substantive narrative responses provide significant data to be analyzed and factored into any thorough study of Lutheran Campus Ministry.

B. Campus Ministry Components, Practices and Models

Astin, Alexander, Helen Astin, and Jennifer Lindholm. “New Study of College Students Finds Connections Between Spirituality, Religiousness, and Mental Health.” Higher Education Research Institute (Heri).

The authors found: “College can be an unsettling time as students struggle with change and fundamental issues about themselves and the world. This study suggests that religion and spirituality can play a positive role in the mental and emotional health of students.” Data from Heri’s large national study of the spirituality of college students shows that those highly involved in religion are less like to be depressed, experience psychological stress or report poor emotional health; they are more likely to have high levels of self-esteem.

Braskamp, Larry. “Fostering Religious and Spiritual Development of Students During College,” 2007.

Braskamp’s studies find religion and spirituality to be important elements of holistic student development. He discovered that religion and spirituality are supported and developed among students at colleges and universities through campus culture, the curriculum, co-curricular activities and community both on and off campus. While much of Braskamp’s work applies most directly to church-related colleges, his assertion that holistic student development is strongly augmented through responsiveness to students’ search for meaning and sense of self applies to ministry on large public colleges and universities as well.

Clydesdale, Tim. The Purposeful Graduate, Why Colleges Must Talk to Students About Vocation, 2015. (*****)

Clydesdale’s study compared students who participated in efforts of the Lilly vocation projects (PTEV) on their campus with students who had not; This study revealed marked differences, i.e. the PTEV students were: more broadly satisfied with their lives; possessed greater equanimity in facing their current life circumstances, held more positive long-term perspectives and were more resilient; he calls them “grounded idealists.” On the basis of his study, Clydesdale asserts that all colleges and universities might well generate co-curricular and curricular efforts to engage especially sophomore and juniors in activities and questions of meaning and making a difference…of asking: “What is life’s…what is my purpose?” Many of these suggested efforts and his assertions regarding vocation are at the core of Lutheran Campus Ministry and its theological commitments.

Copeland, Adam and Roland Martinson. “The Worship, Faith and Spiritual Practices Study, Final Report,” 

This ethnographic study of religious and spiritual practices at a Lutheran liberal arts college discovered a rich, thick, diverse culture of individual, multi-relational co-curricular, curricular and community-wide both on and off campus, activities that involved the majority students, faculty and staff.  While service opportunities, interfaith dialog and multiple explorations of vocation were among the most frequently cited impactful experiences, the many entre points and the larger culture cultivating faith and spiritual exploration were at the core of the college’s religious and spiritual character. While this is a study of a small, religiously-affiliated college, some of these findings, i.e. interfaith dialog, translate into large, public and private university campus ministry.

Laurence, Peter. Creating Multi-Faith Spaces on College and University Campuses Handbook, 2004. (*****)

Laurence asserts that providing accurately appointed diverse religious spaces: 1) serves the spiritual needs of a variety of religions and spiritual and ethical commitments; 2) strengthens specific faith practices; and 3) values and lifts up the importance of religious diversity. Interfaith physical spaces are visible symbols of the institutions value of religion and spirituality and bring together students of a variety of beliefs and values as well as drawing students who do not identify with any particular religions to faith and spiritual practice.

Lindholm, Jennifer, Melissa Millora, Leslie Schwartz, and Hanna Song Spinoza. A Guidebook of Promising Practices: Facilitating College Students’ Spiritual Development, 2011. (*****)

Based on the discoveries of the HERI study of college student spirituality, this companion volume to Cultivating the Spirit, cites promising spiritual practices drawn from investigating over 400 college and university campuses. This handbook of practice provides three categories of examples: 1) curricular initiatives and teaching strategies; 2) co-curricular programs and services; and 3) campus wide efforts and events.

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