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date: 17 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The story of mainline and independent colleges parallels the narrative of American higher education as a whole. Until the twentieth century, these institutions dominated higher education, and religion in general (Protestantism in particular) played a huge role in their early history. During the twentieth century many scholars began to assume that secularization was inevitable, and religion was deemed irrelevant to higher education. Recent cultural shifts have reversed this trend. Globalization reveals the need for religious literacy and interfaith competencies, and the quest for meaning, personal development, and civic engagement that has always been part of the liberal arts is being reframed in ways that are appropriate for traditionally religious, spiritual, and nonreligious students. Religion is being reintegrated into the educational programming of mainline and independent colleges and universities—which still attract more than a quarter of all American college students—in ways that would have been unthinkable a generation ago.

Keywords: church-related, globalization, higher education, independent colleges, interfaith, mainline churches, nonreligious, private colleges, Protestant, spirituality

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