A well-worn, often-told tale of woe. American higher education has been secularized. Religion on campus has declined, died, or disappeared. Deemed irrelevant, there is no room for the sacred in American colleges and universities. While the idea that religion is unwelcome in higher education is often discussed, and uncritically affirmed, John Schmalzbauer and Kathleen Mahoney directly challenge this dominant narrative.
The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education documents a surprising openness to religion in collegiate communities. Schmalzbauer and Mahoney develop this claim in three areas: academic scholarship, church-related higher education, and student life. They highlight growing interest in the study of religion across the disciplines, as well as a willingness to acknowledge the intellectual relevance of religious commitments. The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education also reveals how church-related colleges are taking their founding traditions more seriously, even as they embrace religious pluralism. Finally, the volume chronicles the diversification of student religious life, revealing the longevity of campus spirituality.
Far from irrelevant, religion matters in higher education. As Schmalzbauer and Mahoney show, religious initiatives lead institutions to engage with cultural diversity and connect spirituality with academic and student life, heightening attention to the sacred on both secular and church-related campuses.
John Schmalzbauer teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Missouri State University where he holds the Blanche Gorman Strong Chair in Protestant Studies. He is the author of People of Faith: Religious Conviction in American Journalism and Higher Education.
Kathleen A. Mahoney, Ph.D., is a senior staff member at the GHR Foundation and author of Catholic Higher Education in Protestant America: The Jesuits and Harvard in the Age of the University.
The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education demonstrates that during the past thirty years, religion has made a notable comeback on many fronts in American higher education. It is impressively researched, remarkably comprehensive, and admirably balanced.
~George Marsden, author of The Soul of the American University and The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship
For decades, conventional wisdom saw America’s universities as bastions of secularity and agents of secularization. But the authors of this book show that interest in religion has grown robustly on campus, among both faculty members and students. Religion thrives now, both as a subject of study and as a personal quest. College graduates now are more religiously observant than non-attenders, and there has been a major outpouring of religiously focused scholarship and art. This book is a tour de force, a major synthesis of decades of research. It will change the conversation about religion and higher education.
~Joel Carpenter, Professor and Director, Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin College
John Schmalzbauer and Kathleen Mahoney shed necessary light on the resurgence of religion in higher education. Their work beautifully analyzes the recent trends experienced by college and university campuses all across the country and demonstrates the significance of the church and its role in supporting educational endeavors. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a passion for education, leadership, and faith.
~D. Michael Lindsay, President, Gordon College
Schmalzbauer and Mahoney combine the very best of history and sociology to analyze the most important facets of religion in higher education. Anyone who cares about the past or the future of American higher education should read this volume.
~Elaine Howard Ecklund, Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, Rice University
The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education is an essential read for individuals working with religion on today’s campus, whether they are administrators, ministers, faculty, or the average person in a faith community who wants to support religious and spiritual exploration by college students.
~Amy J. Rio, Convergence Magazine
This study is carefully argued and exhaustively researched. Schmalzbauer and Mahoney make their claims clear, provide ample theoretical grounding (particularly in sociological terms), and assemble an impressive array of evidence.
~Benjamin P. Leavitt, Reading Religion
This characteristic defines the book as a whole: throughout the volume, the authors’ analysis is comprehensive, measured, and nuanced. Schmalzbauer and Mahoney meticulously explore developments in every type of religion and secularist identity across all the different facets of the university. In the end, the authors make a crushing case for the resiliency of religion in American higher education. Few who read this book will question its current staying power.
~Perry L. Glanzer, Journal of Church and State
...indispensable reading in multiple fields—religious studies, higher education, and intellectual history. Highly recommended.