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Student Learning Outcomes for Interfaith and Interreligious Studies

As part of a three-year project funded by the Teagle Foundation, IFYC has partnered with seventeen colleges and universities to develop academic programs in interfaith and interreligious studies. Utilizing grant funds, these institutions have garnered support and convened colleagues to create curricular programs – including majors, minors, concentrations, certificates, and course sequences – that focus on interfaith and interreligious engagement. As scholars invested in the field of interfaith studies create academic courses and programs, it can be helpful to review student learning outcomes (SLOs) already established at peer institutions. The examples below highlight SLOs that a number of these grantearning institutions have created, and exemplify both distinct and overlapping learning outcomes across a diverse range of programs.

Tell us about the SLOs you’ve utilized in interfaith studies courses and programs, or get in touch with us to learn more about others who have. Email Kristi Del Vecchio, Academic Initiatives Associate: kristi@ifyc.org, and visit www.ifyc.org/resources for more resources.

Examples of Interfaith Student Learning Outcomes

California State University (CSU) Chico
California State University Chico is a public institution located in Chico, California, and serves over 15,000 undergraduate students. CSU Chico created an interdisciplinary Certificate in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations, which includes five academic courses, a senior internship in religious diversity, and one course exploring religious diversity in a professional or disciplinary context. The certificate is housed in the Comparative Religions and Humanities Department. Students in CSU Chico’s Certificate in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations should be able to:

  • Describe the basic beliefs and practices of major world religious traditions and how they intersect with diverse social identities (e.g. race, ethnicity, gender, class);
  •  Describe historical patterns of interreligious conflict and cooperation, and apply theoretical models to understand them;
  • Identify laws, policies, and ethical and cultural frameworks that create barriers and opportunities for diverse religious groups; and
  • Participate in and facilitate effective dialogue among those with different religious or non-religious backgrounds and identities.

Elon University
Elon University is a private, secular institution located in Elon, North Carolina, and serves about 5,900 undergraduate students. Elon has created an interdisciplinary Interreligious Studies Minor, which requires at least three courses in the Religious Studies Department – where the minor is housed – as well as up to two courses that may come from outside of the Religious Studies Department. The courses within the department include a capstone course, which requires two site visits to local communities. Elon’s Interreligious Studies Minor equips students to:

  • Analyze the category of religion and the field of interreligious studies, including the histories and theoretical models that inform them;
  • Recognize and appreciate the contours of religious difference both within and between particular traditions;
  • Interact with communities and hear from practitioners, gaining first hand-experience of worship, ritual practice, gender dynamics, the use of sacred texts, political dynamics, and/or interreligious encounters;
  • Recognize and explain the ways in which religious traditions and interreligious encounters are embedded within cultural, political and economic systems;
  • Produce nuanced reflections on ways that religious traditions and religious communities have interacted with other religious traditions and communities throughout history; and f
  • Critique existing models for understanding and facilitating interreligious encounter and offer constructive suggestions for improving these models.

Loyola University
Chicago Loyola University is a Jesuit institution located in Chicago, Illinois, and serves over 9,000 undergraduate students. Loyola’s interdisciplinary Interfaith and Interreligious Studies Minor was launched fall of 2015, and consists of six courses: two required foundational courses, two electives, one 300-level integrative course, and a capstone internship. Students completing Loyola Chicago’s Interfaith and Interreligious Studies Minor will develop:

  • Basic and appreciative knowledge of multiple religious traditions and theologies of religious pluralism and interfaith cooperation. Such knowledge will convey several of the components of interfaith literacy, including explorations of shared values among religious traditions;
  •  An understanding of the problems that come up in religiously pluralistic contexts, the kinds of religious conflicts that have arisen in the past and the positive and effective steps that have been taken to address them, as well as the benefits that have come from religious pluralism and interreligious understanding;
  • A set of conceptual tools from multiple disciplines that can help students deal in interdisciplinary ways with the challenges of a religiously pluralistic society and appreciate its benefits both in American society and within specific contexts; and
  • An understanding of the lived reality of religious pluralism in the United States and in Chicago. This would combine historical, sociological, and political science approaches while requiring students to synthesize and apply interdisciplinary approaches to what they are learning.

Oklahoma City University (OCU)
Oklahoma City University is a United Methodist institution located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and serves about 2,300 undergraduate students. OCU has created an interdisciplinary Interfaith Studies Minor, which launched in fall of 2015. Replacing their pre-existing World Religions Minor, the Interfaith Studies Minor is housed in the School of Religion and consists of six courses: two religion courses, three electives (at least one of which must be taken outside of the School of Religion), and an internship in an interfaith setting. The essential learning outcomes for students enrolled in OCU’s Interfaith Studies Minor are to:

  • Gain a broad overview of the world's major religious traditions;
  • Develop appreciative knowledge of diverse religious traditions, seeking understanding along lines of difference;
  • Examine the shared values of diverse religious traditions in our contemporary culture;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of how religions impact the social and political landscape; and
  • Demonstrate leadership skills in communities or organizations consisting of persons or groups who orient around religion differently

Saint Mary’s College of California
Saint Mary’s College of California is a Roman Catholic institution located in Moraga, California, and serves about 2,800 undergraduate students. The college launched an interdisciplinary Interfaith Leadership Minor in the fall of 2015, which is housed within the School of Economics and Business Administration. The minor consists of 6.25 courses, which includes four courses examining the intersection of interfaith cooperation and anthropology, business, ethics, communication, and psychology, two interdisciplinary electives, and a quarter-credit interfaith leadership praxis course. Saint Mary’s Minor in Interfaith Leadership equips students to:

  • Reflect on students’ own and others’ identity formation and perspective; articulate how religious and other identities and worldviews affect perceptions of issues that arise in various environments and situations; and articulate how such perceptions can result in bias;
  • Demonstrate effective communication and dialogue facilitation skills that can be used to address interreligious conflict and promote interfaith cooperation, engagement, and understanding;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of what it means to be religiously literate; articulate ways that religions differ in thought, practice, and organization; and articulate the meaning of “pluralism” in this context;
  • Identify interfaith challenges and opportunities; propose inclusive methods for addressing them; and articulate how to lead implementation of those inclusive methods; and
  • Demonstrate interfaith leadership (as defined above) in a collaborative community-based project.

University of La Verne
The University of La Verne is a private institution affiliated with the Church of the Brethren located in La Verne, California, and serves about 3,000 undergraduate students on their main campus. La Verne’s Interfaith Studies Minor was launched in the spring of 2015, and includes six courses: five courses exploring interfaith leadership, historical knowledge of interfaith cooperation, religious literacy, and interfaith service, and one capstone course. Through La Verne’s Interfaith Studies Minor, students will be able to:

  • Situate their own evolving worldview within a pluralistic context;
  • Articulate knowledge of multiple worldviews with appreciative and nuanced understanding;
  • Articulate an appreciation of pluralism and be committed to navigating complexities, ambiguities, and contradictions among worldviews;
  • Demonstrate adept skills in interfaith dialogue among diverse participants, including the ability to navigate differences among participants to foster pluralism; and
  • Create and sustain formal and informal opportunities for ongoing interfaith action and dialogue.