Interfaith Leadership in Higher Education
In recognition of the growing importance of religious identity, diversity, and equity on the national and global stage, AAC&U is partnering with Interfaith America to advance interfaith cooperation as a learning goal and practice on campuses.
Partners in Pluralism
Over the last several years, many campuses and nearby communities have become increasingly divided over issues of religious identity and political ideology. AAC&U partners with Interfaith America to help colleges and universities play a responsible role by embracing differences while maintaining a common life together. Through curricular and cocurricular models and campus programming, the Interfaith Leadership in Higher Education initiative helps shape campus culture by establishing best practices for engaging religious diversity, encouraging interfaith cooperation, and integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into institutional interfaith practices.
The initiative was initially funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and thirty institutions participated. Now, with additional funding from the Lilly Endowment, the initiative prepares teams of college and university leaders from ten additional institutions each year to transform their campuses into model environments for interfaith cooperation. Ultimately, the initiative hopes to leverage and demonstrate the strength that comes from diversity and pluralism in campus communities and beyond.
About Interfaith America
Interfaith America works toward an America where people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions can find common values to build a shared life together. A national nonprofit organization, Interfaith America partners with American colleges and universities to prepare new generations of citizens and professionals to lead thoughtfully in a religiously diverse world.
Active since 2002, Interfaith America now has over 450 partner institutions in higher education, along with a growing network of alumni advancing interfaith cooperation across various aspects of American life.
Institute on Teaching and Learning for Campus-wide Interfaith Excellence
In conjunction with AAC&U’s Institute on Engaged and Integrative Learning, the annual Institute on Teaching and Learning for Campus-wide Interfaith Excellence prepares administrative, faculty, and staff leaders to transform their campuses into model environments for interfaith cooperation.
During the institute, colleges and universities create specific plans for integrating interfaith cooperation into campus life and for developing civic interfaith leaders with connections to institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Over the course of four days, each campus team meets with a faculty advisor, attends sessions relevant to their project, develops a context-specific action plan, and consults with experts about key issues. Campus teams continue to receive guidance from Interfaith America and AAC&U after the institute.
Our interactive map shows the 41 campuses that to date have participated in an Institute on Teaching and Learning for Campus-wide Interfaith Excellence.
- Queens University of Charlotte
- Bethune-Cookman University
- Brigham Young University-Idaho
- Calvin University
- Doane University
- Eastern Mennonite University
- Elon University
- Saint Louis University
- Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
- Washington & Jefferson College
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Capital University
- Duquesne University
- Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University
- Loyola Marymount University
- Nebraska Wesleyan University
- Rollins College
- Saint Mary's College of California
- St. Olaf College
- University of Portland
- Ursinus College
- Concordia College
- Gordon College
- Middlebury College
- Keuka College
- Nazareth College
- Pacific Lutheran University
- University of Denver
- University of Miami
- Villanova University
- Viterbo University
- Augustana University
- Ball State University
- Bowie State University
- Bucknell University
- Dominican University
- Holy Family University
- Seton Hall University
- University of Michigan
- University of the Incarnate Word
- Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
- Alvernia College
- American River College
- Bellarmine University
- La Salle University
- Livingstone College
- Mississippi State University
- Missouri Western State University
- SUNY New Paltz
Highlights from Participating Institutions
Washington & Jefferson College: Completed curricular proposal for an Interfaith Studies Minor
St. Mary's University: Conducting full survey of all academic programs and departments to ascertain the number, kind, and degree of interfaith issues and topics addressed in courses and/or programs.
Eastern Mennonite University: Launched the SoulStories program—monthly conversational gatherings to explore different worldviews and faith traditions.
Queens University of Charlotte: Lead a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion training with an interfaith focus for a cohort of 10 students.
Washington University in St. Louis: Developed and launched an Interfaith Buddies Program—groups of three students from different faith backgrounds had recurring informal meetings throughout the semester. They also created an Interfaith Fellowship program with 11 undergraduate students. There are six sessions on interfaith dialogue and leadership.
Nazareth College: Development of ROOTS program for developing student ambassadors to lead and facilitate conversation with attention to intersectional aspects of identity, including religious diversity. ROOTS stand for Re-thinking Othering and Oppression Through Systems.
Concordia College-Moorhead: Worked with the food hospitality task force to conduct a needs assessment to determine how dining services could better accommodate the religious dietary. Needs of faculty, staff, and students. As a result of interviews, significant changes were made in dining services—two interns participated in a meat-flagging project as part of their nutrition and dietetics major and interfaith studies minor.
Concordia College-Moorhead, University of Denver, and University of Miami collaborated to create Holiday Fact Sheets. Each Fact Sheet focused on a single holiday, provided the name, information about the holiday, a description of what the holiday commemorates, and tips for students and faculty to discuss accommodations for missed classes or assignments.
University of Denver: In a partnership between the Religious Inclusivity Team, the Office of Teaching and Learning and faculty in Computer Science, undergraduate students learned about the importance of religious inclusivity in a course and developed an app connected to the broader Holiday Fact Sheet project. The “Interfaith It” App adds dates of holidays from six religious traditions into users’ online Google, Apple, or Outlook calendars. The App is available on the Apple App store.
Elon University: Created an Advisory Board for Black Student Spiritual Support, comprised of an interfaith group of faculty and staff.
Bethune-Cookman University: Offered a virtual faculty workshop on interfaith learning, focusing on student support and diversity awareness.
Ursinus College: The Hillel Director created an asynchronous reading group to explore interfaith studies. That group has over 10 members and has been a forum for active discussion. In the group discussions, faculty and staff are questioning how college campuses should take on meaningful questions, including those of religion in the curriculum