When it comes to advancing interfaith cooperation, having a dedicated partner on your side can make all the difference.
IFYC’s team of campus coaches work with educators to advise, strategize, and connect to valuable resources for campus interfaith work. When you utilize a coach, you gain an ally to help you realize your vision for interfaith projects and programming on campus, and you get lasting, personalized support from an experienced team invested in your continued success. Coaching is always free of charge to educators, and always focused on stewarding your vision.
Our coaching team is drawn from a variety of higher education backgrounds, and typically work with campus partners in a few key ways:
- Strategy & Insights: coaches can help you step back and look at the bigger picture of interfaith engagement on your campus. Successful outcomes begin with a thoughtful strategy, and coaches can help you develop yours, connecting it to the tactics, assets, and actions to move forward.As you imagine what impactful interfaith work looks like on your campus, coaches share best practices and detailed examples of successful work from across higher ed. Whether you're planning new initiatives or enhancing existing efforts, we’ll help provide clarity and time-saving models and advice based on years of experience collaborating with institutions like yours.
- Connect to Peers & Resources: as engagement with religious diversity becomes a growing priority in higher education, we’re helping to network the thousands of educators leaning in to this work. Coaches can connect you to peers facing similar challenges across roles, regions, and campus types; and help you pinpoint unexplored opportunities. We’re especially excited to offer connections to peer learning groups that are focused some of the most common challenges faced by interfaith leaders on campuses across the country. Coaches also provide special access to community resources and funding opportunities offered by IFYC and others invested in campus pluralism.
- Solve Problems: whether you’re dealing with a moment of crisis on campus or working through a complicated issue, coaches serve as sounding boards and confidants to help you explore solutions. Our team doesn’t just advise, we workshop, bringing the collective experience of our group to your issue, working together to address your problem based on the unique needs of your campus.
Whether your campus is just starting to think about interfaith cooperation or already has an interfaith strategy in place, our team is here to help you move forward. Start a conversation with us today.
Get in touch with the coaching and support team
Colorado State University
Colorado State University, located in Fort Collins, Colorado, serves a diverse population of 33,000 students. An instructor in the Communications Department, Elizabeth Sink, inspired by her research into the communication styles of religious and non-religious individuals, piloted a small living-learning community during the 2015-2016 school year. This community allowed a small number of students from multiple faith and philosophical backgrounds to live together and take courses dedicated to understanding interfaith civic relationships.
After attending an IFYC-sponsored faculty convening where she connected to peers doing similar work at their institutions, Sink realized there was an exciting opportunity to further develop her ideas for interfaith engagement at CSU. At the same time, Assistant Dean of Students, John Henderson, was leading CSU’s participation in the IFYC-supported IDEALS survey. Noticing an area of possible collaboration between different areas of the university with similar goals, IFYC coaches invited Sink to review the survey data in partnership with Assistant Dean Henderson.
As they dove into findings and the implications together, Sink and Henderson became more aware of, and inspired by,each other’s interfaith work and start to identify areas where they could mutually support each other’s goals. Just as the survey itself looked at questions involving the whole campus, the involvement of representatives from the academic and student affairs areas of CSU’s campus sparked fresh insights and led to greater momentum for interfaith efforts. As a result of this collaboration, a new student-run Multifaith & Belief Council has been established and CSU has offered a Faith and Belief fair for students interested in learning more about the backgrounds of their peers on campus. In addition, the living-learning community has received continued support and has grown significantly.
Through the relationships built between different campus areas, the data provided by comprehensive assessment tools, and increased support for student projects—all with the support of their IFYC coach—Colorado State has positioned itself as a model for how to smartly expand interfaith cooperation across campus.
“IFYC has been a crucial resource for our campus’ efforts to sustain interfaith community life. Student leadership development through ILI is a key factor in our program. Their invitation to join an interfaith/worldview panel at the Ashoka U Exchange conference was a breakthrough for us, as it helped our chaplaincy join forces with our campus social innovation team.” Jeff McArn, Chaplain, Hamilton College
Hamilton College is a small, private, secular school in Clinton, NY. Over the years, Hamilton has sent student delegations to IFYC’s Interfaith Leadership Institute [ifyc.org/ili], where participants trained together, planned new projects, and returned to campus energized to see them through. Yet even with this training and energy, these students were having a hard time getting their peers to participate in new interfaith projects and engage in real dialogue. Simultaneously, Hamilton’s administration of the (Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey) [ifyc.org/ideals] revealed that Hamilton’s student body mirrors that of many similar institutions where the climate is typically liberal-leaning and conservative and Evangelical identities are in the minority. The survey showed that Hamilton students tend to identify more with their political identity than their religious/spiritual identity, at least publicly, often at the cost of missed opportunities for meaningful engagement with religious and worldview difference while in college.
Hamilton’s Chaplain,Jeff McArn, is a strong advocate for interfaith cooperation, but was unsure of the right strategy to make it an enriching part of the Hamilton experience in light of the survey findings. Sensing a need for guidance, he partnered with IFYC Coach Becca Hartman-Pickerill to explore the possibilities. Their conversations explored the survey findings, Hamilton’s larger approach to student engagement, and the parallels to similar institutions that Becca and the IFYC team have worked with. In short order, they zeroed in on a key opportunity to dovetail interfaith engagement with an existing campus priority.
Social innovation is important to Hamilton College and a commitment to fostering empathy was already part of a first-year requirement, thanks to the Ashoka Changemaker leads on campus working through the Levitt Public Affairs Center. Jeff and two senior chaplaincy fellows (undergraduates) started a conversation across offices and departments about how to collaborate in mutually beneficial ways to embed interfaith engagement into this thriving campus-wide initiative.
The senior chaplaincy fellows modified an empathy building tool used by the Levitt Center, Narrative4, to incorporate questions that would land well with their campus culture and facilitate new conversations; they asked about doubt and commitment, the miraculous, and an experience of wonder or the experience of being centered. The fellow facilitated these dialogues with groups on campus and in the broader Clinton community. Right away, they got more people talking about worldview identity and building empathy. They engaged proactively with the community and generated a unique set of prompts to be be reintegrated back into the first-year experience. The two senior chaplaincy fellows even joined the chaplain in presenting their innovative work, alongside IFYC, at the Ashoka U Changemakers national conference, sharing their insights with the wider field. Today, Hamilton students are having more, and more positive conversations about worldview identity, empathy, and difference than ever before; and with Becca’s continued support, Jeff and his team are exploring even more ways to build on this success.