Though many interfaith-related conferences can focus on religious literacy or diverse spiritual experiences, IFYC regional gatherings provide learning opportunities that develop students’ capacities for interfaith leadership. IFYC defines interfaith leadership as the process of actively shaping environments for others to gain appreciative knowledge, meaningful relationships, and positive attitudes towards people who orient around religion differently. Individuals who act out this leadership have the necessary frameworks, knowledgebase, and skill sets to achieve these outcomes, and these regional gatherings engage participants toward these goals.
Regional gatherings are typically 1-2 day conferences that bring together at least three campuses for the purposes of interfaith training around a specific topic and networking students for their ongoing interfaith work. Networked communities have more resources, connections, and support for overcoming the challenges that are often present when working for interfaith cooperation.
Content and Schedule
Each regional gathering is different and engages their region on key issues that matter most to area campuses and communities, and topics most important to their campus climates.
Example content for these gatherings could include:
- Trainings on dialogue facilitation across deep difference
- Workshops on storytelling skills
- Opportunities for robust reflection that surface shared moral and spiritual values
- Case study analyses of campus conflict that explore practices for healing deep divides
- Sessions that help participants develop community listening skills
- Workshops that help participants develop communication and outreach ideas
Regional gatherings are just as important for campus educators too! We understand that it is crucial for faculty, administrators, and student life staff to have their own interfaith leadership skills as well as the skills to develop student interfaith leadership. From previous conferences, we have found that the combination of student and educators in the training rooms serves to build stronger campus organizations and networks in the long run.
Partnering with IFYC
IFYC provides regional gathering planning committees with both financial and programmatic support leading up to their conference. Regional gathering costs can range from $1,800 to $6,000 depending on the length and location. Campuses can request up to $6,000 from IFYC and these funds should go toward the costs of the conference: printed materials, venue fees, food, speaker fees, advertising costs, etc. Half of the funds will be sent prior to the conference and the additional funds will be sent after the conference. We have also found that a minimal cost ($10-20) holds participants accountable for attending the conference.
For programmatic support, we provide two options:
- IFYC staff will plan and prepare the training content of the day. In consultation with the host's planning committee, we will organize multiple training sessions based upon content covered in our resources, online trainings, and ILI sessions. The role of the host is to coordinate all logistics and recruitment for the conference.
- The host prepares the program in consultation with IFYC staff. Depending on need, we can send staff to help lead key elements.
Regardless of the option that you choose, we plan to remain in touch with each host over the course of the grant cycle. Through ongoing consultation calls and an IFYC presence at the gathering.
On-going consultation calls: Over the summer, we have an orientation to the program and planning process and will set up check-in meetings leading up to the conference as well as a debrief call to reflect on what was learned. These calls will cover the core content of the conference, recruitment strategies, and other promising practices for successful conferences. Monthly emails will continue throughout the year with input from hosts to help further develop elements of your lab gathering. And as gatherings are held, calls will incorporate lessons learned as well.
IFYC presence at the conference: IFYC can send trained staff to lead relevant programming such as training sessions or plenary talks at no cost to the hosts.
After a lab gathering is held, hosts are asked for three things:
- A full roster of those who attended the conference along with certain demographic information (Name, Status, Religious/Worldview Identity, Campus Affiliation, Email)
- A short survey with questions about the grant process, and about what learning took place at the lab gathering.
- A short debrief meeting will be held to talk through what was learned from the conference and next steps for those campuses involved.
Applications are not currently open. If you have questions, please contact Brian Anderson, Student Leadership Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.