We live in a time when people of different religious and non-religious backgrounds are interacting with increasing frequency. Over the past several years, leaders in higher education have recognized a call to engage with religious, spiritual, and secular identity (collectively understood as “worldview”) to prepare college graduates for the realities of global citizenship. However, despite this identified need, professionals often express a lack of preparation and confidence to engage this element of identity with students.
To consider this challenge, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), along with partners from ACPA and NASPA, convened a group of 20 administrators, practitioners, and faculty members in the field of higher education in Washington, D.C. in April 2015. One key result of the meeting was the recognition that campus professionals would benefit from increased preparation and training to engage religious and worldview diversity. The goal of developing an introductory curriculum for potentially wide use by campus professionals took shape and planning began.
Recognizing that the curriculum needed to be informed by the work of practitioners in the field as well as well-respected scholars, IFYC then assembled a smaller team of 12 experienced professionals to advise the overarching goals and outline of the curriculum (please see the BRIDGE webpage to learn about this team of experts). As a committee, we first met in person at IFYC’s offices in spring 2016 and developed the following vision and learning outcomes for the curriculum. As a team, we developed the broader curriculum, asked a small group of campuses to pilot the training, and then refined the tools based on our campus partners’ feedback. We are proud to share the curriculum in its current form for your use today.
The BRIDGE Workshop: An Introduction to Worldview Engagement
Over time, we hope that a critical mass of professionals who complete the workshop will demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability in worldview exploration, be able to build trust and rapport across lines of worldview difference, understand the nuance of worldview engagement, and be willing to appreciate the belliefs and experiences of others without needing to reach theological or philosophical consensus.
The purpose of the workshop is to build confidence of staff on college campuses to engage worldview diversity within the campus context. The curriculum is designed with enough flexibility to customize the content for specific audiences. The curiculum includes elements of self-reflection and discussion and focuses on individual readiness to discuss worldview from a personal perspective. The learning outcomes are as follows:
- Participants will begin to identify as advocates for worldview engagement
- Participants will examine their own worldview as a part of their identity
- Participants will increase their capacity to productively engage with others across lines of worldview difference
We believe that participation in this workshop will help to develop the confidence of student affairs professionals to engage worldview identity within their campus communities.
Please be in touch with us to share your experience via the IFYC website – we hope to continue to refine and improve this curriculum to increase its impact, and we’re interested in your ideas on the best ways to do so.
Best of luck in facilitating the BRIDGE Workshop. We hope that it is a challenging and enriching experience for you and for your participants!
The BRIDGE Workshop Advisory Committee
Associate Chaplain & Director of Interfaith Engagement
Former Director of the Office of Religious Diversity
Mary Ellen Giess
Senior Director of Co-Curricular Partnerships
Interfaith Youth Core
Rahuldeep Singh Gill
Associate Professor of Religion
California Lutheran University
Dean of Students
Mount Holyoke College
Former Co-Curricular Partnerships Manager
Interfaith Youth Core
Christopher Mac-Donald Dennis
Dean of Multicultural Life
J. Cody Nielsen
Executive Director, Wesley Foundation
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Associate University Chaplain and Associate of Director Religious Life
Special Assistant to the President for Inclusion
Utah Valley University
Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs
Bowling Green State University
Former Director of the Interfaith Center
University of North Florida