Filed under: Research
One of the research projects I’m working on is a book on student culture at Wheaton College. I put a brief (one paragraph) summary of what the book is about at the end of this post. There’s a lot to cover, and I’m working on several chapters at once. I decided to post one that I’ve finished. This is a chapter that chronicles the experiences of a Wheaton student who became an atheist. She kept a great blog, “Leaving Eden” (see the link in my blogroll). Like the blog, I write about her without mentioning her name. However, I have met her and discussed her experiences in person. She’s also read the chapter and given it the thumbs-up.
The chapter will be one of the last in the book. The goal is to present student culture at Wheaton through her experiences. It’s written for an academic audience (i.e., stuffy) so you may want to skim the first few pages and get to the good stuff.
You can read the entire chapter here: Becoming an Atheist at Wheaton
Brief summary of the book: For over three decades there has been a concerted effort by those in Christian higher education to articulate their shared mission. Central to this mission are the “integration of faith and learning” and “Christ-centered education.” Evangelical colleges have worked together on developing models of higher education that include the Christian faith in all aspects of the college experience, from the classroom to the dorm room. To date, nearly all of the academic research on this project tackle the problem from the point of view of scholars and other leaders, for whom the goal is to articulate a curriculum or mission for the Christian academy. Missing is an empirical study of what life is like for students in evangelical colleges. The rare books that discuss the experiences of students either are journalistic accounts that are disconnected from academic discourse, or are based exclusively on survey results that lack the description of the day-to-day life of students. There has yet to be a social scientific study of Christian higher education that takes as its starting point the lived experiences of students. What is it like to be a student in a college that emphasizes both secular academic standards and traditional religious beliefs and practices? This book aims to answer this question by examining Christian higher education from the vantage point of students. Using in-depth interviews, participant observation, archival research, and surveys of students, I describe the experiences of students at Wheaton College, one of the institutions on the forefront of the debate over Christian higher education.
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