As the United States becomes an increasingly diverse community composed of citizens with myriad worldview narratives (informed by race/ethnicity, gender, religion, political orientation, sexual orientation, and/or identity intersection patterns), individuals must learn how to positively and meaningfully interact with others across differences. In many ways, colleges and universities serve as ideal environments for young adults to develop the skill set and mindset required for effective interfaith cooperation. Fortunately, innovative research examining interfaith learning and development is currently underway to provide higher education leaders with essential guidance in achieving desired student outcomes.
The Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS) is a research project that seeks to understand undergraduate encounters with religious and worldview diversity on a national scale. It is the first study of its kind to address U.S.college students’ engagement with religious and worldview diversity in such an expansive and nuanced manner. The design and scope of IDEALS makes it possible to examine how students’ interfaith diversity experiences and attitudes change over time and to pinpoint programs, activities, and other environmental factors that foster meaningful interactions with diverse others. Findings will be valuable not only for scholars, but also for practitioners and institutional leaders seeking to implement high-impact interfaith programs on their campuses.
Meet the Survey Creators
Matthew J. Mayhew
Matthew Mayhew is the William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher professor of educational administration with a focus on higher education and student affairs at The Ohio State University. He is interested in how collegiate conditions, educational practices, and student experiences influence learning and democratic outcomes. He has received over 17 million dollars in grants for exploring the impact of college on student outcomes, including, but not limited to, moral reasoning, spirituality, high-risk drinking, and innovative entrepreneurship. Dr. Mayhew has published over 80 articles, is lead author on the most recent volume of How College Affects Students: 21st Century Evidence that College Works, and has contributed to a variety of media outlets, such as The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, The Conversation, and BusinessInsider. In addition to serving as co-principal investigator of the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS), he directs the College Impact Laboratory where he oversees the Assessment of Co-Curricular Residential Experiences and Outcomes (ACREO) survey. ACREO is designed to measure the associations between residential environments and student achievement of timely and relevant outcomes, such as intention to innovate, bystander intervention, and financial health and wellness. Dr. Mayhew earned his doctorate in higher education administration with a focus on research, evaluation, and assessment from the University of Michigan in 2004.
Alyssa N. Rockenbach
Alyssa Rockenbach is professor of higher education in the department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University. Her interdisciplinary research centers on the effects of college environments and experiences on student learning; religious and worldview diversity issues in higher education; intergroup dynamics, cooperation, and attitudes; young adult psychosocial development; and gender and LGBTQ equity issues in education and society. She is co-principal investigator of a five-year national study, the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS), which explores how educational experiences affect college students’ capacity to engage and cooperate with people of diverse worldviews. Dr. Rockenbach has authored or co-authored more than 80 publications, including peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters, reports and monographs, and other scholarly works. Her work has been featured in media outlets such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and The Conversation. Dr. Rockenbach received her B.A. in psychology from California State University, Long Beach and her M.A. and Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Los Angeles.