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a journal of analysis and comment advancing public understanding of religion and education
(more on the Journal)

Winter 2006, Vol. 33 No. 1

Editor’s Preface

This Winter issue marks the beginning of a year in which we move from publishing two issues each year to three—a response to increasing interest in topics covered here.  One consistent such topic involves responses to the increasing religious diversity in the United States.  With increasing diversity comes the challenge of creating pluralistic education communities that value the multiple faith traditions of its constituents.  We open this new year and issue with the results of a new study from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute’s Spirituality in Higher Education project.  Analyzing the central practices, attitudes, and spiritual beliefs of entering first-year students representing non-majority perspectives, Alyssa Bryant elucidates a wide and complex spectrum of approaches to spirituality and religion by Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims, Unitarian Universalists, Jewish students, and students with no religious preference.

Following this expansive view of the landscape, editorial board member Robert J. Nash and his colleague Penny A. Bishop take on the issue of religious pluralism in a post 9/11 world--particularly, how to teach adolescents within this context and about the challenges and opportunities associated with religious diversity.  Among other significant points, they argue for enlarging the scope of multiculturalism and the need for a parallel effort at religious literacy for students at all levels, teachers, and teacher educators.

Elizabeth J. Tisdell continues the probe of teaching about cultural diversity within the secular higher education classroom.  Her article begins with a personal account exploring the secular-spiritual teaching paradox arising from the interrelation of spirituality, religion, culture, and personal identity, and goes on to report findings of a study of a group of educators and their ideas about these issues and how they relate to their own teaching.

Our fourth article features one institution’s experience with the Lilly Endowment’s Programs for Theological Exploration of Vocation, a multi-year initiative granting 87 higher education institutions more than 200 million dollars (see  Jennifer Grant Haworth and Mary de Villiers offer an assessment of the impact (intended as well as unanticipated) of their grant on the renewal of the institution and its commitment to its mission.

The concluding article by Gerard A. Zam and Gregory E. Stone focuses on an important set of players in any religious literacy initiative that eventually is to affect schools – the social studies teacher educator.  In a national study, Zam and Stone surveyed the attitudes of higher education teacher education faculty involved in social studies education and reflect on what the results portend.

Our spring issue is already in preparation.  We are delighted to have Peter Laurence as Guest Editor for this issue on Spirituality in Higher Education.  He has drawn together a distinguished group of scholars for this enterprise.  Please note the article topics and authors on page 109.

The cover art for this issue is Merkaba Mandala or Acrylic Medallion by Robert Wertz. It was part of the October 2001 exhibit, “A Question of Faith,” at the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art.

Michael D. Waggoner, Editor
Religion and Education

Winter 2006