Spiritual vs. Religious? Dr. Dawn Overstreet Shares Perspectives from Today’s Undergraduate Catholics

It is not uncommon to hear undergraduate students (and, indeed, many older adults as well) identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”  But what do students mean by this self-description?  Do they understand these terms in the same way that we administrators do?  In a recent essay published in Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, Dr. Dawn Overstreet shares the results of a study she conducted, during which she asked undergraduate students directly whether and how they differentiate spirituality from religion. The purpose of her research was to examine how undergraduate Catholics attending a Catholic university conceive of themselves as spiritual or religious and the differences, if any, between the two descriptors. The perspectives of the 20 young adults she interviewed provide a rare and thought-provoking window into the minds and hearts of undergraduate students. To read Dr. Overstreet’s essay, click here.

Dr. Dawn V. Overstreet serves as assistant vice president for student  development at Loyola University Chicago.

Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice is a refereed, open access, online journal that promotes and disseminates scholarship about the purposes, practices, and issues in Catholic education at all levels.  To learn more and explore past and present issues, visit the journal online.


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