Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Erin . Doran

Second Advisor

Sarah . Rodriguez


This dissertation study explored the campus climate of Penn State University for religious, secular, and spiritual identities through use of Strange and Banning’s Educating by Design theoretical framework. Specifically, it employed use of case study methodology to qualitatively examine how the Pasquerilla Center, the largest Multifaith Center in North America, as well as the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Development, engaged in providing institutional policies and practices that supported all forms of religious and non-religious identities. The study considered how constructivism affected perceptions of campus climate by students from Muslim, Jewish, Catholic Christian, and Protestant and Evangelical Christian religious identification. Four dimensions of campus climate-- physical environments, aggregated environments, constructed environments, and organizational environments provided the guiding framework from which the study was analyzed.

The study revealed that while physical environments were effective in supporting certain identities, namely Muslim and Jewish students, other students found their campus experience to be less welcoming. Additionally, the presence of a physical environment, such as a multifaith center, may pacify the rest of the general campus from taking responsibility for supporting religious, secular, and spiritual identities. The study also revealed a general “interaction without intersection” of individuals across religious communities until the introduction of a campus staff/ administrator, and office and a specific focus was placed upon such intersections. The study offered several considerations regarding future research and policy and practice implication, including the need for more prayer and meditation spaces, kosher and halal dietary options, and in general more inclusive institutional policies related to religious holiday observances.

Copyright Owner

J. Cody Nielsen



File Format


File Size

253 pages