The UVU Center for Interreligious Engagement began initiatives to combat low interfaith interactions among UVU students by introducing the Foundations of Inclusion workshop series.
UVU students have interactions with peers of a different faith less often than the average university student does according to a study conducted by Interfaith Youth Core. The study said that 73 percent of students across the nation reported that they had regular interactions with peers of a different religion than their own but only 53 percent of students at UVU said that they did.
In the National Survey of Student Engagement, 71 percent of students who belonged to a church other than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said they felt welcome at UVU. However, only 63 percent of non-LDS students reported that they felt like the university provides them with an inviting and supportive environment.
To combat this, the UVU Center for Interreligious Engagement started the Interreligious Engagement Initiative to encourage students to participate in diverse interfaith activities and conversations.
“Interfaith is about how our interactions with those who are different impacts the way we relate to our religious and ethical traditions, and how our traditions impact how we interact with those who are a different faith than us,” said Ellie Thompson, UVU Reflection Center coordinator.
The initiative highlights four tools the school plans to use to encourage interfaith interactions: the Reflection Center, the Interfaith Student Council, academic programming and community partnerships. UVU is hoping to develop faculty, staff and student interfaith competency through the Foundations of Inclusion workshop series.
Leah Gunderson, administrator of Woodbury School of Business’s Accounting department, believes that interfaith interactions are important because they have the ability to strengthen relationships.
“It’s not just about religion; it’s about relationship building,” Gunderson said.
Thompson agreed with Gunderson, adding that she believes interactions with those of different faiths brings about progress on many other fronts as well.
“The principles of interreligious relations are essential for all relationships,” said Thompson.
Thompson believes that UVU should help students make academic advancements, as well as achieve personal growth.
“For the sake of the university, we can’t ignore the development of the humanitarian in each of us. We can have academic [and] career based knowledge. In addition, UVU can offer humanitarian growth,” Thompson said.
Photo courtesy of UVU Marketing Dept.