The internet offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.
- Pope Francis
The Internet has transformed every area of human interaction – including religion – more than any other invention in history. The new technology is disrupting traditional definitions of community, authority, beliefs, and even what it means to be human and present to one another. The Internet can be used to further divide people of different faiths and worldviews, or it can foster greater understanding – the choice is up to us.
IFYC invites you to be part of a new generation of interfaith leaders who understand the power of the Internet, appreciate how it can be used to promote understanding across lines of difference, and are fully trained to maximize the impact of the technology for the common good.
Join us by participating in our #Interfaith curriculum to strengthen your interfaith leadership online.
#Interfaith: Engaging Religious Diversity Online currently consists of 11 individual modules (we hope to continue adding more). Each module focuses on one aspect or theme within interfaith leadership online and can be engaged and completed separately. See below for a brief description of and link to each module.
This module covers the Internet’s genesis and evolution, how it is has impacted religious communities, and identifies some intrinsic challenges to online interfaith leadership.
This module offers an argument for engaging in interfaith leadership online and reflects on what changes and what stays the same when interfaith work is brought into digital spaces.
This module discussed how, even though there is a great need for online leadership, there is no one way to lead. The module encourages learners to reflect on their own values, priorities, and goals to craft their own distinct leadership style.
This module addresses the ubiquity and danger of misinformation online and introduces skills for identifying it, as well as how to develop trusted sources for religious information online.
This module presents two case studies of powerful interfaith community online and reflects on the necessary elements for building such communities.
This module presents case studies of powerful interfaith bridgebuilding online and presents helpful tools, both spiritual and technological, for doing so.
This module addresses the various manifestations of both misinformation and intentional hate and discrimination online. It offers learners best practices for disrupting hate.
This module challenges learners to articulate a vision for their online interfaith leadership, including determining their intended audience and delineating their goals.
This module offers examples of how various online interfaith leaders have utilized different digital platforms for diverse goals. The module encourages learners to reflect on which platforms might be best suited to their particular goals and style.
This module addresses the potential for the Internet and online engagement to produce spiritual and emotional stress. It offers learners tools for recognizing harm online and how to access resources for support.
This module covers how to assess personal risk online and acquaints learners with safety tips and tools to mitigate it.
We have also curated the 11 modules into 5 different “playlists” that correspond with the leadership types from the inventory above. If you’d rather have a little direction, feel free to follow the playlist that corresponds with your leadership style (or another!).
Expert Advisory Committee
We asked each of the members of our expert advisory committee, “What is one thing that you would hope everyone would know about the internet?” This is what they had to say:
Founder of Dr. Josie Inc - Expert Council
Users are guests on these platforms, and we should be aware of what we’re giving up when we give our data to them.” Ex. that Instagram owns all the photos you post. (c.f. The Social Dilemma).
Student at Eastern University
Breaking down walls of separation, because of social media or because of fear. Those kinds of things really inspire me.
CEO of Do Big Things – Expert Council
It's critical to understand how to separate truth from fiction online. We must continually ask, how do we ensure that information people are sharing is healthy and true, and adds to our collective benefit as opposed to creating division?
Student at UW Madison
I work to share my religion through digital spaces because it is what we have to do in the state of our world right now. Just because in-person meetings stopped, doesn't mean religious dialogue can stop as well.
Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community - Expert Council
That the stuff we do online isn’t fake or any less real than offline. Even though people are forming meaningful connections online all the time, they discount them. IRL and URL are different: but one isn’t more real than the other.
Student at Ithaca College
Part of leadership is starting conversations that are needed and being able to lead those conversation, but also knowing when to sit back and listen.
Founder and President of Data & Society Research Institute – Expert Council
When you go online, you are presented with choices. You can choose to only expose yourself to things you already believe, or you can seek out new information and perspectives.
University of Central Florida
I feel like leadership online is keeping the peace, trying not to take sides. A big part of being a leader and then, to an extent keeping the peace is being aware of both sides.
Contributing Fellow at USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture - Expert Council
We are producers and not consumers, and that there’s a responsibility that comes with that and a set of competencies we need to learn.
Heidi A. Campbell
Professor at Texas A&M University - Expert Council
Users create the digital worlds they live in. But we also live in spaces online that have been created for us. We see the internet as this open space of complete freedom, when actually most of the options open to us have already been determined by media designers, and the previous choices we’ve made.
Rev. Jeremy D. Nickel
Founder and CEO of SacredVR and EvolVR - Expert Council
That the internet should be a human right which everyone has access to. Technology is neutral: people decide how technology moves. Corporations are trying to privatize it even more (net neutrality), and people need to be aware of this threat.
Aden Van Noppen
People should understand the dangers of not being thoughtful about our behavior online and the importance of training in digital citizenship.
- What is #Interfaith: Engaging Religious Diversity Online?
#Interfaith: Engaging Religious Diversity Online is a curriculum developed by IFYC to help develop civic interfaith leadership skills for, and on, virtual media. IFYC believes that online interfaith leadership is critical for the future of understanding between people of diverse religious traditions. In this collection of learning modules, you get a chance to gain essential understanding of how the Internet was formed, its operating principles, and how the Internet has impacted religion as a whole and interfaith engagement in particular; investigate current platforms that lend themselves to digital interfaith engagement and what kind of opportunities and pitfalls they represent; become proficient in a set of skills (technological and spiritual) that you will need to be effective interfaith leaders online; consider the specific kind of interfaith leadership you will exercise; and evaluate what success looks like for an interfaith encounter or interfaith community online.
- Who developed #Interfaith?
While IFYC has been thinking about the animating questions behind #Interfaith for a long time, we knew that there was so much that we didn’t know. To learn more, we assembled an Expert Advisory Committee of eight professionals in relevant fields and a Student Advisory Council of six students. These experts and students advised the overarching goals, structure, and content of the curriculum. The Expert Advisory Council consisted of: Josie Alquist, Danah Boyd, Heidi Campbell, Cheryl Contee, Jeremy Nickel, Amanda Quraishi, Chris Stedman, and Aden Van Noppen. Members of the Student Advisory Council included: Angie Benitez-Garcia, Farham Islam, Aliia Matthew, Maya Reinfeldt, Hannah Silver, and Nijha Young.
- Who is the target audience for #Interfaith?
The curriculum was designed primarily with undergraduate students in mind as a complement to the interfaith work they are already pursuing on their campuses. With that said, we know that many other types of learners and interfaith leaders will find this content useful – from graduate and seminary students to community organizers and religious leaders. Everyone has the capacity to act as an interfaith leader, and increasingly we all need to get better at doing that online!
- Who can use #Interfaith?
Anyone! While the modules are designed for college-aged learners (with the explicit hope that educators on college campuses will utilize and adapt these tools for their educational activities), anyone can utilize the content. We hope that the content will also be useful to a broader set of civic and educational leaders who want to improve their digital interfaith leadership skills.
- How is the curriculum structured?
Part of the joy – and challenge! – of the Internet is the diversity of modes of engagement it offers. We designed the curriculum to be adaptable to meet the needs of learners in diverse settings: the curriculum (currently) consists of 11 modules that each cover one topic and can be completed independently. We also recognized – and heard from our advisors – that many learners might like some direction, so we curated these same 11 modules into 5 distinct “playlists,” each of which is tailored to a different “leadership style” (if you haven’t already, take the quiz to see what kind of digital interfaith leader you are!). Learners should feel to engage the content whichever way best suits their learning style and goals!
- Where is the curriculum housed?
All modules and playlists are hosted on the LRNG platform. Participants who go through entire playlists or complete 6 independent modules will be awarded a digital badge backed by IFYC. Learners will need to make an LRNG profile to receive this badge, but not to access the materials.
- What topics and material does the curriculum cover?
See the individual module descriptions to see what content we aim to cover. We also hope to add additional modules to this curriculum over the next 12 months.
- What other interfaith curriculum and/or training material do you have available?
So much! Also on LRNG you can find our three We Are Each Other’s curricular tracks: Getting Started, Interfaith Leadership 101, and Interfaith Cooperation & Civil Rights. Also be sure to visit our eight-part Interfaith Leadership video series if you are interested in content designed more for academic coursework, and our BRIDGE training curriculum if you are interested in leading a training for students, staff, or faculty on your campus.