Date of Dissertation


Document Type

Banded Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Kingsley Chigbu, Ph.D.


Social Work


This dissertation focuses on the integration of faith and spirituality in higher education, more specifically for social work students. Faith and spirituality are important aspects of many people’s lives, and it is important for social work students to understand and comfortably discuss issues and strengths around religion and spirituality. Due to its proposition that people are spiritual beings, who believe in something beyond themselves, Transpersonal Theory is used as a guide for this banded dissertation. At its core, Transpersonal Theory provides a foundation for the journey many people take to find a belief in something outside themselves, either physical, emotional, or existential.

The first part of the dissertation is a review of academic freedom in higher education as it relates to religion, faith, and spirituality. The primary focus management of academic freedom in United States institutions of higher learning. The main conclusion is: ultimately, if discussions of religion and spirituality are not accepted at the institutional level, then social work programs could have difficulty integrating topics that relate to faith and spirituality into their curriculum. The paper also demonstrates how a school’s demography/type, secular or faith-based, can impact its acceptability of discussions related to religion and spirituality.

The second part of the dissertation consists of a qualitative study on integration of faith and spirituality into the social work curriculum. In the study the author collected 53 syllabi from nine Bachelor of Social Work programs in the New England region. Data was analyzed to identify content related to faith and spirituality. The syllabi were reviewed for the depth of faith and spirituality integration in the studied syllabi. Lessons learned from the study indicated that the topics pertaining to religion, faith, and spirituality are incorporated at minimal depth in the Bachelor of Social Work programs in New England.

The third section of this dissertation provides information regarding a poster presentation conducted at the North American Association of Christian Social Workers (NACSW) in November 2017. The poster utilized the data from the research conducted for part two of the dissertation. The outcome of the research, along with part of the literature review, data collection and references were included in the presentation. The results from this presentation were positive. Participants commented on the importance of integrating religion, faith and spirituality in social work education.

Included in

Social Work Commons