As adult, graduate and degree-completion programs continue to increase in enrollment, there is a growing need to explore what online campus ministries could look like. Our current system was designed for the traditional, residential student. Although many adult students already have a church home where they can go for spiritual support and growth, our online programs are bringing in students with more diverse backgrounds with a vast variety of spiritual needs that student advisers and instructors may not be as readily equipped to deal with. In order to continue to grow students in “courageous and faithful learning and living,” NWC must develop the support online students need to continue to grow spiritually.
Ideas from Other Institutions
Christian institutions handle spiritual development of students in different ways and some do not address them at all except for what they term as faith integration within the coursework. Dalton (2004) discusses various areas where academic institutions can strengthen faculty, staff and student spirituality. Some areas he suggested include: strengthen the education and training of professionals to work with college student spirituality and faith development. Provide space on campus for individual meditation, prayer, and reflection. Incorporate spirituality as a component of student health and wellness programs. Integrate spirituality as a dimension in student leadership development. Include spirituality as a component in staff development and training.
Suggestions for Northwestern
Some great discussion in this area has already occurred and great ideas need to continue to be developed. Some of the ways NWC could support faith development and spiritual growth for online students include, but are not limited to:
- Adding a module to the mandatory orientation course completed by online students that would help them understand and locate the campus ministries’ resources- including where to locate the live and recorded chapel services.
- Train faculty and staff on student spiritual and faith development.
- Develop a Prayer Request link within our online Campus Ministries section where students can go for prayer and spiritual guidance.
Goal 2 – Prepare students for meaningful work and flourishing lives.
Astin, A.W., Astin, H.S. & Lindholm, J.A. (2010). A national study of spirituality in higher education: Students’ search for meaning and purpose. Spirituality in Higher Education. Retrieved from https://spirituality.ucla.edu/findings/
Dalton, Jon C. (2001). Career and Calling: Finding a Place for the Spirit in Work and the Community in The Implications of Student Spirituality for Student Affairs Practice, 17-26.
Dalton, J.C. (2004). Supporting students’ spiritual growth in college: Recommendations for student affairs practitioners. Journal of College and Character, 5(10). Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2202/1940-1639.1406
Kuhl, G.D. & Gonyea, R.M. (2006). Spirituality, liberal learning and college student engagement. Liberal Education 92(1). Retrieved from AAC&U website: https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/spirituality-liberal-learning-and-college-student-engagements