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Findings from the Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey

Today’s college and university campuses are among the most religiously diverse environments in American life - places where difference is often encountered every day. At a time when identity-based conflicts pose grave concerns for the future of our diverse society, little is known about how the college experience impacts students’ attitudes towards those of other faiths and worldviews.

The Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS) is shining a light these issues by examining the ways in which U.S. undergraduates engage with religious and worldview diversity in college and how that shapes their commitment to religious pluralism.

The IDEALS research team invites you to join us for a look at the key insights from the first year of the survey. These findings explore the effects of student encounters with worldview diversity in their first year of college and begin to identify the environmental conditions and educational experiences that promote student development and increased attitudes toward religiously-diverse others.

Navigating Pluralism

The first of two reports exploring the first year IDEALS findings, Navigating Pluralism: How Students Approach Religious Difference and Interfaith Engagement in Their First Year of College provides a wide view of major trends and key themes surfaced by the data. This report mainly explores how student attitudes change during their first year of college and what campus factors may influence those changes. Great for senior-level campus decision makers, classroom educators, and student affairs practitioners alike.

Get the full report


Best Practices for Interfaith Learning and Development in the First Year of College

This second first-year report focuses on promising educational practices, and examines relationships between collegiate experiences and first-year students’ interfaith learning and development. Great for the strongest relationships with each of the following outcomes: appreciative attitudes toward specific social identity groups, self-authored worldview commitment, appreciative knowledge, and pluralism orientation.

Get the full report


Friendships Matter: The Role of Peer Relationships in Interfaith Learning and Development

The third report focuses on the positive influence having 'interworldview' friendships during the first year of college has on students' attitudes towards the worldview to which their friend belongs, and to all other worldviews too. The report asks questions and prompts ideas for how campus professionals can create the environment in order to help these friendships thrive.

Get the full report


Watch the Webinar Recording: Promoting First-Year Interfaith Learning & Development

On October 23rd, 2018, the IDEALS team presented important new findings from the first-year survey data, also highlighted in Best Practices for Interfaith Learning and Development in the First Year of College. This discussion, led by Drs. Alyssa Rockenbach (NC State) and Lisa Davidson (IFYC,) explores the increasingly clear set of high-impact educational practices for promoting students' learning and development vis a vis religious and worldview diversity in the first year of college. Over the hour, our presenters discuss each practice area, the IDEALS data that supports them, and the ways campus educators and administrators might put them into practice at their own institutions.

Watch the recorded webinar


Watch the Webinar Recording: Navigating Pluralism

On December 6th, 2017, the IDEALS research team led an online discussion of the key findings from the first year of IDEALS and their implications for campus educators and leaders. Presented by Dr. Matt Mayhew, Professor of Educational Administration, The Ohio State University, and IDEALS Co-Principal Investigator.

Watch the recorded webinar

More to Explore

Learn More About IDEALS

Get to know the Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey and how it helps higher education understand student experiences with religious diversity on campus.

More Research & Reports

Explore additional research and valuable findings from IDEALS and similar explorations of campus worldview diversity.

Explore the Campus Interfaith Inventory

Review the first-ever findings from the national Campus Interfaith Inventory, a groundbreaking project to pinpoint effective practices and set benchmarks for interfaith engagement across American higher education.

IDEALS Research Awards

We are pleased to announce the recipients of ten research awards to go deeper into the IDEALS data.

The Interfaith Diversity Experiences & Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS) was launched in 2014 to directly address higher education’s need for quality research into student encounters with worldview diversity. The survey follows a national cohort of students as incoming first-years (2015) until the end of their fourth year of college (Spring 2019) and provides a continuing look at how students experience religious and worldview difference in college, how their worldview identities evolve , and how the college experience shapes their attitudes toward the religious diversity that characterizes modern American life.

IDEALS is being administered at 122 institutions nationwide, which makes it possible to compare the experiences of students from different institution types—public and private, large and small, secular and religiously affiliated. It is the first of its kind to address U.S. college students’ interfaith engagement in such an expansive and nuanced manner.

IDEALS is a partnership between Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and higher education researchers Dr. Alyssa Rockenbach, Professor of Higher Education at North Carolina State University and Dr. Matthew Mayhew, William Ray and Marie Adamson Flesher Professor of Educational Administration with a focus on Higher Education and Student Affairs at The Ohio State University.

Follow the Conversation

As IDEALS follows this student cohort through their undergraduate years, the research partners will continue to publish key findings and trends and facilitate opportunities for educators to participate in meaningful conversation that surface implications for U.S. colleges and universities.

Recent findings taken from IDEALS data currently include:

  • An overview of the emerging trends gleaned from the initial survey of incoming first-years, which shows that students come to college with high expectations of their campus to provide welcoming environments for those of diverse backgrounds and to offer opportunities to meaningfully interact with those who orient around religion differently.
  • A closer look at incoming first-year students attitudes and experiences prior to college through reports that dig more deeply into the perspectives of evangelical Christian, Muslim, Black Protestant, Catholic Christian, Jewish, and atheist students. Each of these revealed interesting similarities as well as disparities between the pre-college attitudes and experiences of these groups.

The findings from IDEALS and related research initiatives continue to spark important conversations around interfaith engagement on campus. Additional reports and scholarly articles that explore the findings from and implications of these studies are curated online at ifyc.org/assessment/research/explore

Follow the IDEALS Research Team on Twitter via @IDEALSresearch for the latest news and discussions.