What is IDEALS? Why does it matter? 

We interact with and encounter situations that consist of people of different religious and philosophical worldviews on a regular basis.  Whether everyday interactions with neighbors and colleagues, tensions in the Middle East, public officials leveraging faith for political gain, or social media promoting acts of charity across religious difference, interfaith experiences are commonplace in our society. Interfaith engagement can help you gain knowledge and understanding of others’ perspectives while also providing an opportunity to share important aspects of your own worldview.

Interfaith engagement also has important implications for your life right now and in the future. College students arrive on campus with distinct and complex identities, and these identities influence how they interact with one another. While students regularly participate in conversations about gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and ability, they are often hesitant to discuss religious or philosophical perspectives. Interfaith engagement provides an opportunity for you to share your worldview with others and learn about different worldviews held by roommates, classmates, friends, and others you may meet on campus. Interfaith encounters in college can help you make meaning of others’ attitudes and behaviors, while also enabling them to better understand who you are. The peer support and acceptance that often grow out of interfaith engagement ultimately foster stronger and more fruitful relationships. Thinking about your future, the ability to navigate different religious and philosophical worldviews and bring together people of disparate beliefs will lead to greater success in your career and leadership roles. Finally, interfaith cooperation is essential to identifying and implementing solutions to society’s most complex questions.

What does the IDEALS measure and how is the survey constructed?

IDEALS is designed as a longitudinal study with pre- and post-tests to assess change over the duration of students’ collegiate careers. Based on Astin’s (1993) I-E-O model, IDEALS measures a range of items to capture students’ input characteristics, environmental experiences (e.g., college experiences and engagement), and outcomes. Click here for a list of outcomes and example items.

What is the timeline? 

  • Follow-Up Survey: First-Year Students [Spring or Fall 2016] 
  • Final Survey: Upperclass Cohort   [Spring 2019]

How is IDEALS funded?

This project is supported by funders including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, and the Julian Grace Foundation.

What’s the difference between IDEALS and VIEWS?

Although related, the IDEALS and VIEWS have slightly divergent foci. The study team utilizes both instruments to better understand student worldview commitment, perceptions of “other” worldview populations, and institutional factors that may influence interfaith attitudes and interaction. As a cross-sectional survey, VIEWS focuses on student perceptions of campus climate around religious and philosophical worldviews. Because VIEWS is administered to a random sample of all students, it provides a snapshot of the campus climate and ways in which students are engaging in various worldview experiences. Contrarily, the IDEALS is only administered to the incoming class of fall 2015, tracking their pre-college perceptions and behaviors as well as collegiate involvement and experiences. Due to its longitudinal structure, IDEALS will help campus administrators understand how the collegiate experience impacts student outcomes related to interfaith cooperation.

For more information, email survey@ifyc.org