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Diane D. Walsh, Teresa A. Wilkins, Ph.D.

The Role of Spirituality on Valuing Social Justice for Undergraduate Students

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College students have historically been involved in social justice movements, from the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s to the current political climate. Catholic colleges and universities, such as Jesuit institutions, often explicitly promote student engagement in social justice academically and experientially (Kolvenbach, 2008). The present study explored the relationship between spirituality/religiosity, appreciating diversity, and valuing social justice among students at four Jesuit institutions (N = 370). Hypotheses included identification as non-White or multiracial would be predictive of higher levels of appreciating diversity, higher scores on spirituality/religiosity would predict higher levels of valuing social justice, and spirituality would moderate socioeconomic effect on valuing social justice. Key findings indicated that higher levels of appreciating diversity were predictive of higher levels of valuing social justice (R2 = .29, p < .01), and spirituality predicted unique variance over appreciating diversity on valuing social justice (R2=.31, Δ R2 = .03, p < .01). Results did not indicate an impact of socioeconomic status on valuing social justice. Implications and recommendations for future research are also discussed.

Keywords: social justice, diversity, spirituality, higher education, Catholic colleges



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