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Cultivating the Spirit Through Reflective Engagement: The Journey of the FSU Spiritual Life Project

Craig Filar, Office of National Fellowships

Presenter: D. Craig Filar

Professional Title: Director, Office of National Fellowships

Institution: Florida State University

Background  Experience: Craig Filar serves as the director of the Office of National Fellowships. Previously Filar worked in the Division of Undergraduate Studies with Advising First in the Department of Biological Science and then opened the Office of Undergraduate Research as its associate director. He now mentors students through the application processes for awards such as the Fulbright, Rhodes, and Truman scholarships. Filar earned dual degrees in music theory and commercial music-vocal performance from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He earned a M.M. and Ph.D. in music theory from Florida State University.


Cadence KidwellPresenter: Cadence Kidwell

Professional Title: Program Director, Global Pathways Certificate and Exchanges; Convener, Spiritual Life Project

Institution: Florida State University

Background  Experience: Since 2008 Cadence Kidwell has launched and managed the nationally-recognized Global Pathways Certificate program that encourages, coordinates, and documents student experiences for greater intercultural learning. Kidwell also provides leadership and management to the FSU international exchange programs, developing partnerships with over 70 international universities on behalf of FSU’s faculty. By coordinating these efforts, she has become a central contact for involving Florida State’s students in a diverse array of international activities that develop their global citizenship, advising on related policies and developing FSU’s online portal for global opportunities. Prior to her current position, Kidwell was the director for FSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning. In addition to her Ph.D. in English from Florida State University, she holds a M.S. in clinical-counseling psychology. She has participated in intercultural exchanges in Cuba, Turkey, and Costa Rica.


Laura OsteenPresenter: Laura Osteen

Professional Title: Director, Center for Leadership and Civic Education

Institution: Florida State University

Background Experience: Laura Osteen is director of Florida State University’s Center for Leadership & Civic Education, a campus-wide endeavor to develop responsible citizens and effective leaders. Osteen teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the higher education department and the Undergraduate Leadership Studies Program. She received her doctorate of philosophy degree from the University of Maryland in the field of college student personnel with an emphasis in leadership development and organizational change. Her master’s degree is in student affairs and higher education from Colorado State University, and her bachelor’s degree is in speech communication from Indiana University. She is a member of the Leadership Identity Development research team.


Kathleen Smith, Advising First.

Presenter: Kathleen Shea Smith

Professional Title: Associate Director, Advising First

Institution: Florida State University

Background  Experience: Kathleen Smith serves as the associate director of Advising First, the network of academic advisors within the Division of Undergraduate Studies at Florida State University.  Prior to serving in this role, Kathleen developed and led the Advising First Center for Exploratory Students, a program that places passion and purpose at the center of educational decision making. The center was recognized as a 2011 Outstanding Academic Advising Program by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).  Smith is a regular presenter at national and regional advising conferences and launched the NACADA Research Symposium initiative, a program that supports academic advisors with scholarly research activity. She earned her Ph.D. in higher education from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University, her M.Ed. in psychoeducational processes from Temple University, and her B.S. in psychology from Kenyon College.



Astin & Lindholm, (2010) conducted a national study exploring spiritual qualities among  college students. They discovered that spiritual growth increases among those who participate in “inner work” that includes self-reflection experiences. The Spiritual Life Project at FSU recognizes the value of these findings and has launched several initiatives resulting in rich opportunities for reflective engagement. Join members of the Project to discuss their journey and explore the role of educators in cultivating the spirit.

Session Experience: The Spiritual Life Project at Florida State University is committed to celebrating meaning, purpose and authenticity in life.  Through several initiatives and unique programming and events, students are encouraged to deepen their self-understanding, broaden their awareness as global citizens, and develop a sense of commitment to higher ideals.  Within each initiative, the program’s members included rich opportunities for reflective engagement, which revealed some surprising results.  Project members believe that through the use of reflective engagement, students enhance their ability to enact their visions with clarity of purpose, as they strive to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of our communities.  Spiritual Life Project Steering Committee members will discuss their journey, walk participants through a visual display of meaningful moments, and facilitate a discussion to explore the role of educators in cultivating the spirit as means to promote personal and social responsibility during college and beyond.