Belief systems have a role in shaping the performance of teachers and principles – that’s what MU researcher Noelle Witherspoon-Arnold has found. According to Witherspoon-Arnold, educators with strong belief systems are more connected to their work and their students, and they are more likely to be social justice-oriented than educators without strong belief systems. But “belief system” doesn’t always mean religion – and whatever that system is, there are often tensions at play.
We sat down with her to find out more. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
At 12 years old, Summer Davis was frustrated with the amount of weight she had gained.
“I started getting really annoyed and mad at myself for being overweight,” she said.
She began researching weight loss tips online when she stumbled across the website for a camp near St. Louis: Camp Jump Start, a weight loss camp for 10- to 18-year-olds. “I realized you have to work hard instead of taking a pill or doing some weird thing to lose weight fast – you have to actually work hard,” Davis said.
Volunteers from different faith communities have been working together to grow food. Columbia has more than 30 community garden plots, and several of them are interfaith gardens.
Monta Welch is the founder of a group called Interfaith Care for Creation, which has started an interfaith garden project in Columbia. The goal of the program is to educate different faith communities about environmental stewardship, she said.
According to the Religious Landscape Survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in 2008, one in 10 American adults identifies as an ex-Catholic. And of the 25 percent of American adults who are still Catholic, only one in four attend mass regularly.