Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - 56

Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities
More than 20 years ago, Love and Talbot recognized that the field
of higher education could benefit from increased attention to research
on student religious identity and development. In this paper,
we seek to build on their work, updating and reinforcing their call
for increased attention to spirituality, as well as religious identity,
but in the context of housing and residential life.
American higher education originated in a context in which spirituality and education
were inherently intertwined (Marsden, 1994), yet as higher education evolved within
the changing nation, colleges and later universities followed societal trends and began
separating public interests from religion (Collins et al., 1987). This shift away from religious
communities as a driver of higher education came first by way of the Morrill Land
Grant Act of 1862 but did not become prominent until the mid-20th century (Marsden,
1994). Specifically, between the 1940s and 1980s, a series of legal decisions reinforced
an ideal of " legal secularism " (Joppke 2016, p. 984) or the " wall of separation " (p. 985),
which sought to create distance between religion and the public institution. Collins
and colleagues (1987) described higher education's use of the separation of church and
state defense as a reason to avoid engaging in conversations and conducting research
on spirituality.
A generation later, after student affairs was established as an interdisciplinary field
of empirical study and intentional practice, Love and Talbot (1999) challenged the
profession by asking why " spirituality and spiritual development have been conspicuously
absent " (p. 361) from related discourse alongside parallel deliberations of student
identity development, moral and ethical development, and cognitive development.
Astin and colleagues (2011) responded to that call with a benchmark study and ensuing
book exploring students' spiritual lives, followed by Small and Bowman (2012), who
surveyed the landscape of research related to college student religious development.
Steady progress continues to be evident today via Small's (2020) efforts to explicate
a critical theory of religious pluralism and Mayhew and Rockenbach's ambitious
Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Study, better known as
" IDEALS " (Interfaith Youth Core, n.d.).
Despite advancements in the broader higher education discourse on college student
spiritual development, related studies and publications in the context of housing
and residential life have been few and far between. In 2014, Craft sought to amend
this, drawing together scholars and practitioners to produce a special issue on religion
and spirituality in The Journal of College and University Student Housing. In general,
though, housing and residential life is still lacking in its conversations about religious,
secular, and spiritual identities.
More than 20 years ago, Love and Talbot (1999) recognized that the field of higher
education could benefit from increased attention to research on student religious
identity and development. In this paper, we seek to build on their work, updating and
reinforcing their call for increased attention to spirituality, as well as religious identity,
but in the context of housing and residential life. To do so, we first establish a common
56 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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