Submission Date


Document Type





Jasmine Harris

Committee Member

Jasmine Harris

Committee Member

Danielle Widmann Abraham

Committee Member

Lauren Wynne

Department Chair

Jonathan Clark

Project Description

Millennial Culture and Epistemology takes a mixed methods approach to understanding the culture and epistemological processes of the current cohort of millennial undergraduate students at a small residential liberal arts college. The study first identifies specific trends in epistemological frameworks, ethics, and claimed spiritual/religious identities among a sample of undergraduate students and finds that students are commonly utilizing subjectivist epistemological frameworks that are built around cultural relativism and skepticism. The study then unpacks markers of undergraduate millennial culture as they relate to epistemology and finds that students’ stances on issues of community, social ethics and responsibility, religion, and spirituality are often heavily influenced by students’ experiences with trauma, mental health concerns, widespread generalized cultural anxiety, broadly shared disdain for traditional organized religion, and a social ethos of individualism. They maintain a preference for personal spirituality over communal religious practices, though many do not find religion or spirituality to be important and some regard it as harmful to persons and society. This does not mean the students aren’t interested in social care and community building—quite the contrary. The study finds that students are very active in caring for others around them, and they often enact this social care through personalized moral communities. These findings suggest that scholars of sociology and religion must develop new academic language and study tools that accurately detach millennial community practices and epistemology from religion and spirituality so as to more fully and inclusively address the relationship between culture, epistemology, and ethics.