Alexander and Helen Astin are the some of the most widely-quoted authorities in the field of higher education—as Ken alludes early in the dialogue, whenever these two talk it’s generally a good idea to pay attention. Listen as Ken, Alexander, and Helen discuss the complex role of spirituality among college students, the important differences between religion and spiritual life, and the effects religion, spirituality, and academics have upon our worldviews and political ideologies.
Alexander W. Astin is a leading authority in the field of higher education. He is the Professor Emeritus of Higher Education at the University of California, Los Angeles and Founding Director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. He has served as Director of Research for both the American Council on Education and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. He is the Founding Director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, an ongoing national study of some twelve million students, 300,000 faculty and staff, and 1,600 higher education institutions. Dr. Astin has authored 20 books and some 300 other publications in the field of higher education, and has been a recipient of awards for outstanding research from more than a dozen national associations and professional societies. He has also been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education, has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and is the recipient of eleven honorary degrees. A 1990 study in the Journal of Higher Education identified Dr. Astin as the most frequently-cited author in the field of higher education. In 1985 readers of Change magazine selected Dr. Astin as the person "most admired for creative, insightful thinking" in the field of higher education. His latest book (with H.S. Astin) is Leadership Reconsidered: Engaging Higher Education in Social Change (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2000).
The Astins will introduce their comprehensive multi-year project to study the trends, patterns, and principles of spirituality and religiousness among college students, and how the college experience influences spiritual development. The project, called “Spirituality in Higher Education: A National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose,” has thus far, provided considerable insight into students’ levels of interests and involvement in spirituality, what they expect from colleges and universities in terms of spiritual development, and how faculty view the place of spirituality in the academy.