The Role of Catholic Campus Religious Ministries in the Formation of Young Adults: Psychological, Social and Organizational Factors (2016-2017)


The study of religion among college students is a thriving research field. However, very little empirical research has investigated the role of on-campus religious organizations in students’ lives.

Organizations play an important role in providing material, social and psychological resources to their members. Campus religious organizations are in an interesting theoretical space that further brings up questions connected to identity and morality during a time that is formative of later life.

How students are engaged by and, in turn, engage campus ministries, and how campus ministries shape students’ religious and secular lives is a substantial area of investigation that has been theorized but largely ignored by empirical research.

Project Description                                                                                       

This project aims to develop and administer a panel study of Catholic students on several college campuses. In partnership with the Duke Catholic Center, the project will administer surveys prior to entrance into college and after entry at regular intervals to better understand the religious and non-religious developments of students and how they relate to their participation (or non-participation) in campus ministries.

The project aims to answer questions related to campus ministries’ roles in the psychological and social outcomes of individuals, and better understand how campus ministries can achieve their goals while fostering student development and interest in their religion.

Anticipated Outcomes

The project will produce data with which students and other researchers can answer questions related to campus ministries’ and religion’s role in students’ psychological and social lives. The project will also produce resources that contribute to the knowledge and goal achievement of the Duke Catholic Center and campus ministries broadly, applying the data collected to better understand the characteristics, goals and needs of contemporary students.


Summer 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outcomes to Date

Impact of Catholic Ministries on Student Human Development (Megan Tisdale, Simon Brauer, Samantha Heino, Gerardo Parraga, David Wohlever Sánchez)

Project website


The Role of Catholic Campus Ministries in the Formation of Young Adults


Simon Brauer, PhD Candidate in Sociology

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See photos of this team on Flickr

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Peter Arcidiacono, Trinity - Economics*
Mark Chaves, Trinity - Sociology*
V. Joseph Hotz, Trinity - Economics*
Father Michael Martin, Duke Catholic Center

Graduate Team Members

Simon Brauer, Graduate School - PhD in Sociology*
Emily Pechar, Nicholas School - Environmental Sciences and Policy
Megan Tisdale, Liberal Studies

Undergraduate Team Members

Samantha Heino, Biology (BS), Evolutionary Anthropology (AB2)
Gerardo Parraga, Economics (AB)
David Wohlever Sanchez, Public Policy Studies (AB)

* denotes team leader