Interfaith Youth Core
Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is committed to its vision of interfaith cooperation as a social norm. By partnering with higher education to elevate this civic priority, IFYC is working with institutions to foster interfaith cooperation on campuses and prepare students for leadership in a religiously diverse world.
While many campuses have made great strides in fostering interfaith cooperation and pluralism through co-curricular programming, IFYC is exploring is how interfaith engagement can be addressed in the college classroom as part of a more comprehensive preparation for global citizenship. IFYC’s project—entitled “Bridging the Liberal Arts and Professional Preparation through Interfaith Studies”—supports the expansion and refinement of the interdisciplinary academic field of Interfaith Studies through campus awards focused on bridging liberal arts and pre-professional (e.g., business, nursing) education models.
In January 2016, IFYC announced the Request for Proposals (RFP) to its network. The RFP stipulated that the grants were eligible to institutions interested in pursuing curricular programs that met at least one of two parameters:
Programs that build clear and sustainable partnerships between liberal arts faculty and professional schools and programs housed within the same institution, particularly health, education, and business.
Programs that explicitly build partnerships with local employers to better identify the skill-sets required for effectively joining the local workforce; these partnerships must then be parlayed into curricular design and revision in the proposal’s curricular program.
IFYC awarded $10,000 grants to 14 campuses and $5,000 grants to two additional campuses based on a competitive RFP process. In addition to the financial support, IFYC consults with the faculty and acts as a convener of the 16 participating campuses. The participating campuses include: Augustana College, Barton College, Bethany College, Bridgewater College, Cabrini University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Gustavus Adolphus College, Hofstra University, Loras College, Regis University, Shenandoah University, Texas Wesleyan University, University of St. Joseph, University of St. Thomas, University of the West, and Utah State University. Professional fields represented include Psychology, Criminal Justice, Applied Sciences, Kinesiology, Public Policy, Business, Communication Studies, Education, Nursing, Media Studies, and more.
One of the campus grantees, the University of St. Joseph, is leading the charge to develop a new course sequence in Interfaith Studies for Nursing and Helping Professionals, and has received approval for a new course Foundation in Interfaith Studies. The Theology and Religious Studies were impressed with how this new course flows from an existing General Education course (Faith, Theology, and the Modern World) which has been revised to incorporate an interfaith component. The curriculum change has been approved by the institution’s curriculum committee and Provost, and is now required for all University of St. Joseph students. As a result, beginning in Fall 2017, almost all incoming students will be introduced to Interfaith Studies by the end of their second year. In light of this accomplishment, University of St. Joseph is now further revising their plan for a new certificate, broadening the scope of the disciplines involved, and encouraging faculty in fields outside of Nursing and Healthcare to build on students’ introductory knowledge of Interfaith Studies with modules and courses in a wider variety of major programs. They have also revised the certificate’s capstone course, Introduction to Interfaith Leadership, to be more broadly encompassing of pre-professional fields outside of Nursing and Helping Professions.
One challenge IFYC has found with a multi-institutional approach is that, not surprisingly, every institution’s particular context and needs are unique. They have found that individualized relationships and tailored consulting enables them to develop a deep understanding of the variety of needs and opportunities for cross-institutional collaboration.
IFYC is beginning to actively disseminate the curricula, pedagogical and collaborative best practices, and broader learnings gleaned from the project to its growing network of approximately two thousand faculty across the academy through the creation of curated resources, reports, articles, webinars, and conference presentations. IFYC is committed to robust evaluation of the program, and an in-house assessment team is evaluating the project on its outlined objectives.