All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Laura Forbes

Advisory Committee Members

Andrew McKnight

Larrell Wilkinson

TIImothy George

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


Wellness and wellbeing have been a national priority in the United States of American for many years. Since 1961, wellbeing models have been created and reconstructed to define our understanding of what wellbeing is as well as what it should or could potentially be. These endeavors have contributed to a body of research that serve as a foundation for this study. The aim of this study was to review current theory and design a qualitative study to determine if current theory could be expanded upon utilizing religion, spirituality, faith and centeredness as central grounding principles for the model. This was a grounded theory study focused specifically in a higher education setting. The goal was to understand wellbeing in higher education and determine if a new model could be developed to offer a better understanding as well as a new approach to wellbeing in higher education. A purposeful sample of 14 individuals (13 female and 1 male) were recruited within a higher education setting in central Alabama. This sample included 2 faculty members, 5 staff members, and 7 graduate students. There were 4 religious groups or centering spiritual practices represented in the study (i.e. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism/Eastern Contemplative). Questionnaire and interview data were collected from participants and thematic analysis was utilized to understand individual experience of how religion, spirituality, faith (R/S/F) and the idea of centeredness impact overall wellbeing. The findings support the assumption that R/S/F and centeredness have an impact on overall wellbeing. The themes that emerged supported the development of a new theory coined in this work as The Theory of Centrality. The proposed theory includes a central grounding principle, three internal impact areas, and three external impact areas. The model also includes mental health and life satisfaction. The conclusion of this study provides new insight into the experience of wellbeing. It puts forth a model that identifies R/S/F as a grounding feature resulting in centeredness which enhances overall wellbeing. The model also allows for other grounding principles to serve as essential, though more research is needed to establish the impact of this on overall wellbeing.

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