Wellbeing and Religious Identity: How We Are Missing a Component of the Student Experience

with Jenny L. Small, J. Cody Nielsen

About This Course

The UCLA Study of Spirituality in Higher Education exposed student affairs professionals to the realities of religious identity and practice: amongst students who are religiously active during college, significant decreases in mental health issues, increased retention, persistence, compassion toward others, alongside many other positive characteristics are prevalent. However, further research from Dr. Jenny Small and others represents that this “wellbeing” may be lower amongst religious minorities, leading to an inference that campuses remain biased toward Christian traditions, even unintentionally. These findings of wellbeing are an important sign that religious, secular, and spiritual identity is important in the co-curricular experience. Join Dr. Jenny Small and expert in residence Cody Nielsen as we explore deeper.

When student affairs professionals discuss Wellbeing, we often consider financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing. But often forgotten is the importance of spiritual wellbeing, an element highlighted extensively in the 2003-2005 UCLA Study of Spirituality in Higher Education. Follow up work to this seminal study by Dr. Jenny Small and others have found that this area wellbeing may be extraordinarily important for college students. Yet, the data finds that marginalized religious students may be missing out on these benefits due to environmental conditions present on the college campus.

Our live briefing will cover the essential elements of Wellbeing and the data from the UCLA Study. But it will also cover the underserved religiously affiliated students. The research discussed will highlight methods through which universities might take further steps to support all students on campus, will highlight the important of policies that might affect these students, and will speak to the need for higher education professionals to consider religious, secular, and spiritual diversity work on their campus.

Learning Outcomes

Participants attending this live briefing should expect to learn more about the connections between mental health and religious practice as well as a working definition of wellbeing. Additionally, takeaways will include methods that student affairs professionals might employ to enhance campus climate for marginalized religiously affiliated students. 





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