Faith and scholarship can co-exist in the classroom

As an animation instructor in Los Angeles, Ryan Woodward couldn't tell his students that when he was struggling he would ride his bike into the mountains and pray for strength. "But when I got to BYU ... I could talk to (students) about my own personal relationship with God and my religion and how that helped me get through being laid off, and artistic challenges and all those things that come up," he said.

While faith-related discussions are common at BYU, many colleges and universities across the country, including those that are not church-related, are recognizing the importance of religion and the ways that faith can intersect with scholarship, said two scholars who recently presented a conference at BYU on that topic.

"Most educators recognize that human beings aren't just material," said Rhonda Jacobsen, a professor of psychology and director of faculty development at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. "There is a spiritual dimension to life. And to have an educational system that doesn't recognize (that) ... is a fairly restricted view of what's appropriate for education."

Faith and scholarship across the country

For 10 years, Rhonda and Douglas Jacobsen, who is also a professor at Messiah College, have studied how faith and scholarship connect as well as how educational institutions deal with religion and spirituality.

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