2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence

May 22 – May 24, 2017
UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, Los Angeles, California

The 2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence is designed to focus on the themes of Identity, Community, Leadership, and Research amalgamating for conversation and collective action in regards to Religious, Secular, and Spiritual initiatives in higher education. This convergence will address the intersectionality of identity, religion, and spirituality with students, community members, and professionals and how those entities converge through one's work and collegiate experience. Furthermore, the content presented through the 2017 Convergence will be reflective of research and policy and is intended to spark thoughtful conversation, strategic action, and enhancement of professional practice towards creating more socially just and inclusive campus environments that support religious, secular, and spiritual exploration and practice in our communities.

NASPA and the executive planning committee for Convergence have opted to move the conference dates from June to May of 2017. The reason for this shift is to be more inclusive by not hosting this important gathering during Ramadan or over Shabbat.  If you have any questions about this shift, please connect with a NASPA staff member.

Register Online


The 2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities (RSSI) Convergence is designed to be an atypical "conference" and rather a practice of "Convergence". To converge is to meet in a point or line or to move toward each other. Convergence is the very act of moving from parallel to common purposes The 2017 NASPA RSSI Convergence proposes to do just that. Join us on the journey!

It has been almost 20 years since the landmark Education as Transformation conference at Wellesley College took up these themes and higher education has been on a steadily evolving course to integrate religious, secular, and spiritual identities into the campus environment.  Now, faculty across all disciplines, administrators, student affairs, religious professionals in higher education, community organizers, and others are invited to bring their experience, distinctive approaches, and emerging questions together, converging our conversations into a singular space that will call us to yet more informed. skillful, and effective action. 

The 2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence is designed for higher education faculty across all disciplines, administrators, students, campus ministers, chaplains, religious professionals, interfaith educators, as well as university affiliates and partners that work in and want to work in religious, secular, and spiritual endeavors.  This innovative three-day/two-night professional development opportunity intends to:

  • Enhance one’s understanding of spiritual, religious and secular student identities within the process of human development in the context of higher education.
  • Expand one’s confidence, knowledge, and ability to participate in spiritual, religious and secular conversations.
  • Increase attendees’ spiritual, religious and secular network(s) and their understanding of the work of various organizations and individuals that work in this space and how to apply this information to a campus setting.
  • Discover innovative and intentional practices and programs.
  • Discuss opportunities in which religion and spirituality are components of creating more socially just and civically engaged campus communities.
  • Share strategies and management tactics of religious, secular, and spirituality programs on and off campus including staff education, campus integration, identity development, and academic and student development partnerships.
  • Explore the breadth and depth of higher education’s responsibility to both undergraduate and graduate students who are lifelong learners with an understanding of religious, secular, and spiritual identities and how to engage with individuals of different faiths and perspectives beyond graduation.

NASPA'S Journal of College and Character with special guest editors, Nick Bowman and Jenny Small, will publish a special issue relating to the conference theme. The issue will include selected articles based on scholarship presented at the conference. Papers given at the conference or manuscripts which have been later developed based on program presentations may be submitted for consideration.  Prior to the conference, all registered presenters will receive information regarding manuscript guidelines and deadline for submission to the journal.  The JCC is a professional journal that examines how colleges and universities influence the moral and civic learning and behavior of students.  For more information about the Journal of College and Character, visit the website here.  Send questions regarding the special issue to JCC editors at [email protected].

Convergence can only happen if we come together, therefore, we invite you to join us May 22-24, 2017 at UCLA to be fully present to share your experiences, talents, insights, and questions as we gather together in the spirit of common interest to move our work forward.


Presented By

2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence
2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence
2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence
2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence
2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence


This event is most likely to influence these groups.

  • Faculty
  • Senior Level
  • Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Mid-Level
  • AVP or “Number Two”
  • Graduate
  • New Professional
  • Administrators
  • Students
  • Campus Ministers
  • Chaplains
  • Interfaith Educators
  • Religious Professionals


Let others know you are coming!

Use this hashtag to see what others are sharing #RSSIConvergence

Call for Programs

The conference executive planning committee is seeking proposals that enhance and progress the conversation of religious, secular, and spiritual identity on college campuses. Presenters will be asked to identify the intended audience for their session; foundational, intermediate and advanced. Additionally, the conference planning committee will select programs based upon the program's' relationship to the conference topics and learning outcomes. 

Proposals will be evaluated based on:

  • content (is your proposal clearly articulated?); 
  • relevance to a conference theme;
  • evidence of clearly stated outcomes and objectives;
  • contribution to the knowledge and practice of student affairs educators and religious, secular, and spiritual professionals within our communities. 

For the inaugural NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence meeting, the executive planning committee is looking for these types of programs  and/or papers to provide a holistic conference experience:

General Interest Session - A 60-minute presentation session that is ideal for a panel or multiple presenters submitting together. This is an option in which a presentation might include programs or papers on scholarshipresearch, campus and/or community programs, partnerships, and background information. This session provides an opportunity to gather input from other meeting participants in an intimate setting. This session is intended for individuals or concise group presentations on trending topics.

Exploration Session - A 60-minute presenter-facilitated exploration of religious, secular, and spiritual identities. This might include facilitating a prayer, ritual, tradition, meditation, or embodied experience session. This session is intended for participants to experience different practices of faiths, beliefs, and identities.

Roundtable Reflection - A 60-minute presenter-facilitated discussion that allows participants to more deeply engage with an idea, program, research, or to reflect on their conference experience unencumbered by technology.

Mini-Institute - A 90- or 120-minute highly interactive session that teaches promising practices to enhance religious, secular, and spiritual identity development in the classroom, on campus and/or in the community.

Research- or Program-Based Poster Session - A session that allows presenter(s) to share an idea, a program or a specific topic. One-on-one interactions facilitated by a poster session help the presenter(s) gather feedback from conference attendees on their ideas, data, analysis, and/or results. 

Conference Themes & Suggested Topics

  • Data-Driven and Research Oriented

    Designed to incorporate data-driven decision-making practices using current research to provide fundamentals to those who are new to the field as well as a forum for experienced professionals to advance their skills by discussing these identities with educators, practitioners, scholars, and policy-makers.

  • Enhancing Practice(s)

    • College and University Driven Practice
      • Promising practices in community partnerships on-and-off campus, and program development.
      • Promising practices related to trainings, programs, and services.
    • Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Practices
      • Exploration of various religious, secular, and spiritual texts, traditions, and rituals.
      • Discussion of needs and opportunities for religious, secular, and spiritual groups.
      • Sharing of various models of religious, secular, and spiritual integration with the campus community.

  • Campus Policy

    • Systemic and social justice approaches to including and discussing religious, secular, and spiritual identities on campus particularly in regards to current events.
    • Approaches to campus related issues regarding space, calendars, dietary restrictions, or other accommodations that are being created and implemented. 

Looking for tips on writing an effective NASPA proposal? See sample submissions and formatting tips in our Program Submission Guidelines.

Submission Timeline
  • October 4, 2016
    Call for Proposals Opens
  • January 20, 2017
    Call for Reviewers Closed
  • February 10, 2017
    Call for Proposals Closed
  • March 9, 2017
    Coordinating Presenters Notified
  • March 17, 2017
    Presenter Confirmation Deadline

Writing Tips

Looking for tips on writing an effective NASPA proposal? See sample submissions and formatting tips in our Program Submission Guidelines.


Mon, May 22

8:30 a.m. – Noon
Pre-conference Workshops
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Convergence Welcome & Opening Plenary
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions
5:15 p.m.
Opening Reception

Tue, May 23

7:15 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
Breakfast Roundtables
8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Morning Plenary
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Break/ Lunch On-Your-Own
1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Featured Sessions
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions
3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions
5:00 p.m.
Dinner On-Your-Own

Wed, May 24

7:15 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
Breakfast Roundtables
8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Closing Plenary
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions
10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions

Pre-Conference Programs & Events

Online Learning Community Bundle
As a part of the 2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence, you may register for a special bundle of the 12 OnDemand sessions delivered by Expert in Residence, J. Cody Nielsen. These presentations, with material covering support for religious minorities and secular students, to how laws shape the higher education landscape for religious practice, will act as a supplement to the convergence.

With the bundle, you will have access to the recordings of each session along with any materials and resources distributed by the presenters. Through the NASPA Online Learning Community, you will also gain access to forums and discussion boards, allowing you to continue the conversations you start at the convergence throughout the year. You may also use the materials on your own campus, hosting sessions for others to view the presentations as a group and bring valuable opportunities for dialogue to the wider community at your institution.

You must be registered for the 2017 NASPA Convergence conference in order to receive the bundle pricing. The presentations will be available to view through June 30, 2018.

Pre-Conference Workshops
Pre-conference workshops for the 2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence are listed below. There is an additional registration fee to attend pre-conference workshops and they may be added to your conference registration at any time.

From Identity to Community

Monday, May 22nd • 08.30 AM – 12.00 PM

The focus of the Convergence is identity, and how institutions of higher education can better accommodate the diverse elements of identity among students. This session will investigate how these many identities can be validated in their particularity, but might also brought together into a harmonious campus community. Peter Laurence will begin by tracing the history of the interfaith movement and how it strives to bring people together across religious lines. The Education as Transformation Project at Wellesley College grew out of that movement and, in keeping with contemporary developments, also recognized the growing influence of students who characterize themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” The project therefore identified its primary concerns as religious pluralism and spirituality in higher education.

View More Details
Christy Lohr will use her experience at Duke University to explore some recent issues with regard to religious and spiritual life on campus.  Sometimes students are challenged to integrate different identity factors into a holistic academic experience, but this is not always the case. What perceptions about religious identity motivate students’ academic choices and learning goals? How do questions of meaning and purpose, of value and ethics intersect with vocational pursuits and aspirations? Do students with a religious orientation feel empowered to integrate this into their academic learning, or does a divide exist between students’ curricular and co-curricular lives?  The emerging movement in interreligious studies attempts to challenge assumptions about the divide between Religious Studies and Religious Life and aspires to create benchmarks for interreligious learning across liberal arts fields and disciplines. 
What does it mean for us to converge?  Cody Nielsen will take us past the Education as Transformation moment into the realities of the current research, which has compelled professionals to accept a reality that religious, secular, and spiritual identities matter in significant ways on campus.  Cody will look at the emerging identities of students from a variety of traditions, including the rise of the “nones,” a designation of students who claim no particular religious tradition, and who now constitute as much as 50% of the student body, but are extremely diverse in the their own right.  Cody will examine the complex relationships possible between institutional religious organizations and the university itself.  How can a university and a religious organization work together to promote the mission and vision of the institution and support the campus community?  
Lastly, Angie Thurston will share her research into emerging spiritual communities across the United States. As a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, Angie focuses on communities of meaning that are attracting rising generations, even as religious disaffiliation continues. She will provide an overview of this landscape, followed by a deep dive into one such community, the Open Master's, which will prompt a conversation about what it means to create learning communities that listen to the soul.


This professional development program is designed for higher education faculty across all disciplines, administrators, students, campus ministers, chaplains, religious professionals, interfaith educators, as well as university affiliates and partners that work in and want to work in religious, secular, and spiritual endeavors. 

Registration rates are based on your NASPA membership. If you are not a member, please visit the NASPA Membership page for more information.

One-day rates are available by request.  If you are interested in attending the conference for only one day please email [email protected] to discuss these details.  

Register Online

Registration Fees

Early Bird
09/01/2016 to 04/08/2017
Regular Registration
04/09/2017 to 05/12/2017
05/13/2017 to 05/20/2017
NASPA Member


Tonya Murphy
Membership Coordinator
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202.265.7500 Ext. 1183

Stephanie Reynolds
Assistant Director for Knowledge Communities and CLDE Initiatives
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202.719.1193


View Registration Policies


Cancellation:  The cancellation deadline to receive a refund is April 1, 2017, less a $50.00 administrative fee.  No refunds will be given after the deadline for any reason.  All requests for cancellation and refunds must be in writing and sent to [email protected].

Group Registration Discount: NASPA offers a discount for members registering in groups of two or more individuals from a single institution. To apply for this discount send a request in writing to [email protected] prior to applying payment to registration orders. Please include all registrants’ full names, the institution name, and the title of the event. The membership department will follow up for any additional information required and provide a personalized discount code each member of your group can use when processing payment.

Purchase Orders: NASPA does NOT accept purchase orders as a form of payment. For registrants requiring an invoice to have a check payment processed, please use the Bill Me payment method to complete your registration. The resulting invoice can be found and downloaded under the My NASPA section of the website (must be logged-in), by selecting the View Invoices link from the dropdown menu. Alternatively, email a request to Membership to have a PDF of your invoice sent to you. Bill Me registrations are considered complete and will hold your place in an event, however the balance due must be settled prior to attending.

Click here to view NASPA’s complete Payment Policies and Procedures.

Additional Questions? Please contact the NASPA office at 202-265-7500 or via e-mail to [email protected]


  • Amer Ahmed

    Amer Ahmed

    Director of Intercultural Teaching and Faculty Development
    University of Massachusetts

    Faculty Bio

  • Peter Laurence

    Peter Laurence

    Former Executive Director
    Education as Transformation Project at Wellesley College

    Faculty Bio

  • Rabbi Jessica Lott

    Rabbi Jessica Lott

    Director of Jewish Educational Networks
    Hillel International

    Faculty Bio

  • J. Cody Nielsen

    J. Cody Nielsen

    Executive Director
    Wesley Foundation at the University of Minnesota

    Faculty Bio

  • Sharon Parks

    Sharon Parks

    Senior Fellow
    Whidbey Institute

    Faculty Bio

  • Janett C. Ramos

    Janett C. Ramos

    Assistant Director for New Student and Transition Programs
    Northeastern Illinois University

    Faculty Bio

  • Larry Roper

    Larry Roper

    Interim Director, School of Language, Culture and Society Coordinator, College Student Services Administration Coordinator, Social Justice M
    Oregon State University

    Faculty Bio

  • Nick Stancato

    Nick Stancato

    Campus Organizing Manager
    Secular Student Alliance

    Faculty Bio

  • Ross Wantland

    Ross Wantland

    Diversity & Social Justice Education
    University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

    Faculty Bio

  • Jamie Washington

    Jamie Washington

    President and Founder
    Washington Consulting Group

    Faculty Bio


We are thrilled to welcome the prestigious speakers to the inaugural NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence in May 2017.

  • Reverend Jamie Washington

    Reverend Jamie Washington

    President and Founder
    Washington Consulting Group

    Speaker Bio

  • John L. Hoffman, Ph.D.

    John L. Hoffman, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor, Educational Leadership Director, Doctor of Educational Leadership Program Chair, Department of Educational Leadership
    California State University, Fullerton

    Speaker Bio

  • Mamta Accapadi, Ph.D.

    Mamta Accapadi, Ph.D.

    Vice President for Student Affairs
    Rollins College

    Speaker Bio


If you would like to exhibit at or sponsor the 2017 NASPA Religious, Secular, and Spiritual Identities Convergence please fill out the exhibitor and sponsor application form and e-fax back all 4 pages to 202-204-8443 or e-mail [email protected] by April 28, 2017.

Questions? Contact Fred Comparato by phone at 202-903-0657 or via email at [email protected]

    Gold Level
  • Ask BIG Questions


UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, Los Angeles, California

UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center
Los Angeles, CA

All conference activities will take place at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center.

The UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center has arranged special room rates for conference attendees starting at $229/night. Reservations must be made by Monday, May 1, 2017. Please make your reservations as soon as possible, as rooms tend to sell out for NASPA events. To book a room online, please click on the "Book Your Hotel Room Now" button below. To book a room by phone, please call 855-522-8252 and refer to the group code 170520NASP.


Hotel Room Rate/Night
UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center
425 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095
$229 - Single/Double
  • Travel

    The closest airport to the conference location is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center is approximately 12 miles from the airport.

  • Transportation

    Taxis and Shuttles
    For more information about taxi and shuttle service, please visit the Ground Transportation page of the LAX website.

    Rental Cars
    For more information about rental cars, including available companies and contact information, please visit the Rental Cars page of the LAX website.

  • Weather

    Temperatures in Los Angeles in June are in the mid-70s F during the day and mid-50s F in the evening. As the conference gets closer, please visit the Weather Channel for more information.

up Back to Top

Get in Touch with NASPA