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?

 

College students say they care about interfaith cooperation — are school leaders listening?

A new article by Kelsey Dallas of The Deseret News National Edition features the Time 1 results from IDEALS.  Check out an excerpt below:

All college students have the potential to experience this kind of transformation, say experts on religion and higher education. Colleges and universities are in a unique position to both increase students’ religious understanding and their exposure to followers of other faiths.

“‘We have an opportunity as educators to set the stage well and give college students as many opportunities as we can to grow in ways that affect global change,” said Matthew Mayhew, the Flesher professor of educational administration at Ohio State University.

College students hold a similar view of campus life, according to the Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey, or IDEALS. The first wave of this research, which analyzes responses from more than 20,000 students at 122 colleges and universities, reports that 71 percent of incoming college freshmen in the fall of 2015 expected their institutions to provide opportunities to get to know students of diverse religious and nonreligious perspectives.

However, many schools fall short of this expectation, and some students graduate with the same religious biases they brought to campus. IDEALS is an effort to energize interfaith programs on college campuses across the country and to remind school leaders of the value of interreligious dialogue in the real world.

“It’s going to become increasingly important … that (college students) have a working understanding of how to have productive exchange across religious differences,” said Mayhew, one of the project’s principal investigators.

Read the full article here.  In what ways can your institution can support students who care about interfaith cooperation?