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Many colleges are reporting increased mental health concerns among students as well as issues of increased polarity and racial tension on their campuses. I believe these problems point to a spiritual disconnection as higher education aims have shifted in such a way that the spiritual needs of students have been neglected.

In this thesis, I propose an intervention that nurtures a student’s individual spiritual growth while developing leadership capacity for college student leaders in religious and spiritual life. This story circle model incorporates storytelling, active listening, and individual and group reflection as spiritual practices that promote faith and identity formation. Supported by narrative identity theory and narrative theology, Hollins University chapel student leaders engaged in meaning-making through the act of contemplative writing and sharing their faith stories (testimony) and built community with one another across their differing experiences and beliefs.

This method would benefit other higher education institutions by providing best practices that open up dialogue about faith and religion in academia, create connections across diversity, encourage holistic development in emerging adults, and contribute to well-being and resilience for individuals and academic communities.

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