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a journal of analysis and comment advancing public understanding of religion and education
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Volume 33 Number 2
Spring 2006

Integrating Religion and Spirituality in Higher Education: 
Meeting the Global Challenges of the 21st Century

Joseph L. Subbiondo

Religious and spiritual differences are often contributing causes of an escalating number of global conflicts, and colleges and universities face a pressing challenge to learn how to educate students to understand these differences. Students need to be prepared to live and work collaboratively with those with whom they have profound and seemingly irreconcilable disagreements regarding the role of faith. Now more than ever higher education should devote itself to creating and exploring initiatives that will integrate a respectful awareness of religion and spirituality into the curricular and co-curricular programs and activities of the campus. It would not be an overstatement for us to claim that unless colleges and universities model interfaith inquiry and dialogue, we will never arrive at a stage of global dignity that will ensure world peace.

In this essay, I will survey current perspectives in American higher education regarding integrating an awareness of religion and spirituality into the academic as well as non-academic areas; outline two major initiatives and several other projects that could help advance this integration; report on a university, the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), that places this type of integration at the core of its educational mission; and suggest a set of principles for faculty members to consider in their planning to integrate religion and spirituality more fully into their courses.

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