Sensing Self in an Age of Technology: Aspects of Authentic Meaning as Perceived by Tertiary Students at One Israeli University

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This conference presentation was originally published as:

Fitzsimmons, P., Kasler, J., & Lanphar, E. (2018). Sensing self in an age of technology: Aspects of authentic meaning as perceived by tertiary students at one Israeli university. In L. Gómez Chova, A. López Martínez, I. Candel Torres (Eds.), EDULEARN 18 Proceedings (pp. 11204-11212). Valencia, Spain: IATED Academy. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Palma, Spain. Abstract retrieved from https://library.iated.org



ISSN: 2340-1117


130103 Higher Education

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This paper seeks to unpack the findings of a qualitative study that aimed at understanding the possible relationship between the concept of meaningful life and spirituality as understood by fifty-two Israeli tertiary students. The rationale for this study is located in the growing international recognition that “substantial numbers of undergraduate students appear to express a strong interest in spiritual matters” (Astin and Astin 2004: 5). As well, it has been suggested that globally this age group is also deeply interested in seeking a meaningful life beyond the connectivity that technology brings (Mupotsa 2017). However, with relatively few exceptions these concerns would appear to be rarely met with any degree of satisfaction, conclusion or connectivity in tertiary settings (Nash & Murray 2010; Astin, Astin, & Lindholm 2011). Indeed Flanagan (2007:7) bluntly states, “the one sector of education seemingly exempt from these concerns with spirituality is higher education.” Contrary to this, in the relatively small literature base related to tertiary spirituality there is the beginning of a quantitative and speculative research pool that suggests the possibility of rapid changes in the spiritual understanding of Israeli tertiary students (Rich and Cinnamon 2007; Ruah-Midbar 2012). Further to this it would also appear that several Israeli universities are perhaps going against the international grain, and at least have a teaching focus on spirituality. This project seeks to extend this developing research base through a qualitative investigation of tertiary students at one tertiary college in Israel. Warren, Lerner and Phelps (2016) believe it is important to understand this phenomenon given the apparent spiritual shift in this highly religious country, and despite it also being highly secular. In capturing a snapshot of understanding from a young adult section of Israeli society, further implications may arise that could add to the apparent global shift of this demographic away from church or religious spirituality (Peltonen 2017).


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At the time of writing Edie Lanphar was affiliated with Holy Cross School in the United States.

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