Cultivating Compassion: Rhetoric or Reality?

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Michael Lovette-Colyer, Ph.D.


Despite the massive amounts of research conducted on the effect of college on students, almost no empirical work has been done on whether students grow in compassion during their undergraduate studies. Designed to address this gap, this longitudinal study of more than 500 students found that the majority demonstrated change in compassion across their fi rst two undergraduate years. Four campus experiences were associated with shifts in compassion: Involvement with voluntary community service and immersion trips were positively associated with changes in average compassion while participation in Greek life and required community service-learning were negatively correlated with compassion change.

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Author Biography

Michael Lovette-Colyer, Ph.D., University of San Diego

Michael Lovette-Colyer is Assistant Vice President and Director of University Ministry at the University of San Diego.