Religion in Search of a Place at the Campus Diversity Table

The IDEALS study was recently featured in an article by Betsy VanDenBerghe in the October 20, 2016 edition of Real Clear Religion.  Read an excerpt below:

“My job is to keep close to the data and stay responsible to the research,” observes Mayhew, who refrains from drawing too many conclusions from the first wave of 2015 statistics. Still, he frames the latest findings as proof that pluralism—the extent to which students are accepting of others with different worldviews and are willing to find common values and build relationships while remaining true to their own paradigm—remains a high priority for incoming freshmen. A substantial majority of students surveyed, 71%, rated opportunities to get to know students of diverse religious and nonreligious perspective as very important, and expressed interest in participating in service with and learning about and from those with diverse religious perspectives. But according to Mayhew, university outreach fixated on the race-gender-sexual orientation triumvirate of diversity tends to ignore worldview diversification altogether.


“I can understand the reluctance,” he explains. “Integrating religious students into the mix is challenging for a number of complex reasons.” Contributing to the complexity is the hesitancy of faculty and administrators to include those who actively proselytize, such as evangelicals or Mormons. But “campuses have an imperative to support diverse students regardless of their narrative,” Mayhew asserts. “Attracting all students, not just particular groups, and not punting the religious students to para-church organizations, creates genuine pluralism, and religious students can be included responsibly.” After all, he points out, a strong correlation exists between having a close friend of a different worldview and maintaining a positive opinion of that worldview….


By ignoring worldview diversity, higher ed not only excludes a constituency ready to build bridges in an discordant atmosphere, but ignores a historically rich perspective adding much needed transcendence to a materialistic, divisive world.

Read the full article here. In what ways can your campus reach out to religious students in order to integrate and support them?


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