The Quest for Purpose

The Collegiate Search for a Meaningful Life

By Perry L. Glanzer, Jonathan P. Hill, and Byron R. Johnson

Subjects: Education, Philosophy Of Education, Philosophy, Higher Education
Paperback : 9781438466842, 426 pages, July 2018
Hardcover : 9781438466859, 426 pages, September 2017

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction Searching for Meaning and Purpose in College: A Dying Quest?

Part I: The Context of the Quest

1. Are Colleges Giving Up on Life’s Meaning and Purpose? The Historical and Cultural Context

2. The Adolescent Journey: The Precollege Path to Finding Meaning and Purpose

3. Mapping the Presence of Purpose: How Identity, Social Context, and Education Matter

Part II. Figuring Out College Students’ Quest

4. Developing Purpose in the Contemporary University: Four Stories

5. Mapping What Makes Life Meaningful

6. The Diverse Purposes of College Students

7. Is Purposelessness a Problem?

Part III. Questing in the University

8. Encountering Purpose in the Classroom

9. Looking for Purpose Outside of Class

Part IV. The Heart, Hope, and Soul of Purpose

10. Purpose with Soul: The Religious

11. Finding Purpose in a Universe without One: The Nontheists

12. How Does the Story End? Purpose, the Good Life, and the Future

Conclusion

Appendix A: Methods
Appendix B: Interview Guide: 110 Students at 10 Campuses
Appendix C: Statistical Supplement to Chapters 3 and 10

Notes
Bibliography
Index

Demonstrates how students and educators can resist narrow, utilitarian views of higher education’s purpose.

Description

While the search for meaning and purpose appears to be a constant throughout human history, there are characteristics about our current time period that make this search different from any other previous time, particularly for college students. In this book, Perry L. Glanzer, Jonathan P. Hill, and Byron R. Johnson explore college students' search for meaning and purpose and the role that higher education plays. To shed empirical light on this complex issue, the authors draw on in-depth interviews with four hundred college students from different types of institutions across the United States. They also analyze three sets of national survey data: the National Study of Youth and Religion, College Students Beliefs and Values, and their own Gallup-conducted survey of 2,500 college students. Their research identifies important social, educational, and cultural influences that shape students' quests and the answers they find. Arguing against a utilitarian view of education, Glanzer, Hill, and Johnson conclude that colleges and universities can and should cultivate and aid students in their journeys, and they offer suggestions for doing so.

Perry L. Glanzer is Professor of Educational Foundations at Baylor University and a Resident Scholar with the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. His books include Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (coauthored with Nathan F. Alleman and Todd C. Ream). Jonathan P. Hill is Associate Professor of Sociology at Calvin College and the coauthor (with Christian Smith, Kyle Longest, and Kari Christoffersen) of Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out of, and Gone from the Church. Byron R. Johnson is Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University and the author of More God, Less Crime: Why Faith Matters and How It Could Matter More.