Birnbaum, Matthew

Committee Member

Yakaboski, Tamara

Committee Member

Jurin, Richard R.

Committee Member

McDevitt, Teresa M.


Leadership, Policy and Development: Higher Education and P-12 Education Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



231 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This study is a constructivist, narrative case study exploring the experiences of Catholic college students at a secular university. Eight student narratives are explored through the lens of intersectionality theory, in the context of classroom experiences. This study reviews the history of religion in higher education, Christian privilege, religious identity development, and sense of belonging in order to contextualize the participants’ perceptions of being marginalized in academic settings. With consideration for current social issues and political debates, students reflected on their experiences and ultimately revealed that Catholic students are feeling marginalized in their classrooms, not only for their specific beliefs, but because of the lack of diverse perspectives shared in their learning environments. As a result, they are dropping classes, changing majors, and internalizing their feelings of confusion, frustration, and isolation. Students have a need for multiple perspectives in their classrooms. Educators can foster this type of learning environment by making space for various views to be shared and respected in academic settings. Future research could include explorations of other religious identities or identity intersections in order to lend further understanding to how classroom learning could be more inclusive and effective.

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Copyright is held by the author.