ERIC Number: EJ830659
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan-30
Reference Count: 0
Atheist Students on Campus: From Misconceptions to Inclusion
Goodman, Kathleen M.; Mueller, John A.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n21 pA64 Jan 2009
People who follow trends in higher education are aware of a renewed emphasis on religious plurality and spirituality on college campuses. But all the articles, conferences, and campus activities surrounding religion and spirituality rarely, if at all, acknowledge one group: students who are atheists. If colleges are to be truly inclusive, they should embrace atheist perspectives as well. This article notes that misconceptions about atheism and atheist students abound, leading atheist students to hide their beliefs to avoid confrontations. The authors suggest that it is the responsibility of educators to create an environment that encourages atheist students to come forward and share their views. That will require reframing atheism as simply another perspective for exploring purpose, meaning, and morality. Administrators and faculty members should learn more about atheism, including its history and varied definitions; create a welcoming environment for atheist students; include atheism in student programming; ensure that atheists can, like other students, explore their inner development; create safe spaces that are "atheist only" for students; and look to other institutions for best practices. The benefits to nonatheist students are substantial as well. The challenge of accepting atheism as an alternative outlook can help them continue their own inner development and broaden their worldview.
Descriptors: Religious Factors, Misconceptions, College Faculty, Religion, College Students, Beliefs, Moral Values, Educational Environment, Humanism, Social Attitudes, World Views
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A