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Five Questions Relating to Moral Development: JCC, Nov. 2020

Civic Engagement Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division Spirituality and Religion in Higher Education Professional Level
December 7, 2020 Pamela C. Crosby Independent Scholar

Here are some important questions that relate to moral developnment that are explored in articles in the November 2020 issue (vol. 21, no. 4) of the Journal of College and Character:

1. How are colleges dealing with the increasing presence of religious diversity on campus and what types of experiences do students of all faiths and worldviews face in these diverse climates?

Religious Intolerance on Campus: A Multi-Institution Study
Kevin Fosnacht , Indiana University; Cynthia Broderick, Indiana

Fosnacht and Broderick investigated bachelor’s degree-seeking students’ religious and spiritual discrimination experiences and found that students in their study who identified with a non-Christian, world faith tradition more frequently experienced discriminatory acts than their Christian peers. More respect for others’ spirituality beliefs on campus was negatively correlated with experiencing acts of religious intolerance, while increased comfort in expressing religious and spiritual beliefs on campus was positively related to more frequent incidents of religious intolerance. Read more.

Examining Muslim Student Experiences With Campus Insensitivity, Coercion, and Negative Interworldview Engagement
Darrnell Cole, University of Southern California; Shafiqa Ahmadi, University of Southern California; Mabel E. Sanchez, University of Southern California

Cole, Ahmadi, and Sanchez examined the extent to which the organizational and structural aspects of an institution influenced insensitivity on campus, coercion on campus, and negative interworldview engagement  and found in  that Muslim students in their study who attended institutions that promoted interfaith cooperation and religious diversity and provided optional religious diversity training for faculty and staff are less likely to report insensitivity, coercion, and negative interworldview engagement on campus. Read more.

2. How can colleges and universities encourage and enrich student engagement on and off campus?

Arts for a Change: Collegiate Arts Attendance as a Mechanism of Social and Civic Growth
WeiLin Chen, National Sun Yat-sen University; Mitchell David Lingo, University of Iowa 

Chen and Lingo’s study looked at how arts attendance in college facilitates growth in socially responsible leadership, diversity orientation, and the importance of political and social involvement. They found in their study, for example, that arts attendance in the first year of college has a positive dosage effect on student-rated importance of social and political involvement, and that, arts attendance at any level has a positive influence on students’ interest in participating in diverse social and cultural activities. The search to find both curricular and cocurricular activities to increase students’ orientation to improving the society in which they live and improving connectivity to those around them may require multiple interventions throughout the collegiate experience. Arts programming may provide an opportunity to  improve such orientations in students. Read more.

Student Engagement From Beyond the US: Increasing Resonance Through Reframing the Construct
Vicki Trowler, University of Huddersfielda; Birgit Schreiber, Africa Centre for Transregional Research, University of Freiburg

Trowler and Schreiber’s article argues the case that more research and theorizing are needed to make the student engagement construct relevant to living and learning communities, students, and institutions beyond the United States. Researchers and policymakers should expand their understanding of what is deemed engagement, and move beyond considering engagement only in congruently aligned, university-driven, on-campus activities. Embracing a life-wide, multi-dimensional, and multi-local conception of student engagement that is located in the real-world contexts in which students live and study allows the recognition of a wider spectrum of students’ engagement and lays the groundwork for an easier transition between oppositional and congruent expressions of student engagement to reduce the risks of student attrition or needless alienation and sanctioning. Read more.

3. Where do colleges and universities fall short in addressing the unique needs of graduate students of marginalized identities?

Supporting the Identity Development of Multiracial Graduate Students
Weam Elsheikh, Oregon State University; Jensen Woods, Oregon State University; Jenn Kuan, Oregon State University 

Elsheikh, Woods, and Kuan maintain that many student populations remain under-researched, resulting in less attention being devoted to their needs. Among the groups that have not been sufficiently studied are multiracial students and graduate students, with considerable less understanding of students who live at the intersection of these two demographic groups. The unique issues facing multiracial graduate students and ways to address their needs should be a prominent topic of conversation among scholars and colleagues in today’s higher education research and institutions. Read more.

How Student Affairs Education Limits Spiritual, Religious, and Secular Identity Exploration: A Qualitative Study of Graduate Students’ Educational Experiences
Matthew Burchett, Baylor University; Perry Glanzer, Baylor University 

Burchett and Glanzer undertook a phenomenological examination of the experiences of second-year graduate students in four elite master of education programs with respect to these identities to  explore the attention to religious, spiritual, and secular identity in the graduate preparation of student affairs professionals. They found that  both secularists and devout religious believers in their study experienced a marginalization that chilled discussions about these identities and their willingness to share their own identities. Their view that other students and professors did not perceive spiritual, secular, or religious identity development as important amplified their fear and sense of marginalization. Read more.

4. How Can student affairs professionals apply historical lessons to promote advocacy and inclusion?

Learning How to Meet Current Challenges
Paton Roden, University of Alabama

Roden notes that student affairs was founded on student needs surrounding advocacy and inclusion and she highlights in this article the role of student affairs officers during challenging times, revisits the content of that text, and reviews the current landscape of student affairs. She recommends that NASPA compile a second book applying historical lessons from the civil rights era to today. Read more.

5. Why Should College Educators Intrude Into the Private Domain (Peer Culture) of Students’ Lives?

The Influence of Peer Culture on Identity Development in College Students
Kristen A. Renn, Michigan State University 

Read the response of Focus Author Kristen A. Renn of Michigan State to this and other questions relating to her feature article published in the JCC.