Higher Education

Grant Opportunity for Religion and Health Educators Looking to Bridge the Gap

Multi-ethnic group of College students in nursing class. Woman professor is explaining how to do blood tests. Everybody is wearing a uniform. They are in a mock hospital room with mannequin arm on table. Horizontal indoors waist up shot.

Students and educator in college nursing class. (martinedoucet/Getty Images)

Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association published results of a Harvard study confirming that engaging religious identity in health care settings makes a meaningful difference in health outcomes.

At the same time, both scholars and practioners have seen more clearly in the wake of the pandemic the vital role that religious communities play advancing more equitable health care. In both personal and public health, signs are pointing toward the importance of bridging the religion and health divide. 

Yet health field students and faculty alike report feeling unprepared to navigate the religious diversity of care seekers, patients, colleagues, or the broader community. Beyond mention of religion as a “social determinant of health,” many pre-health courses lack the depth or breadth needed to prepare students to interact meaningfully around religion and spirituality. 

Interfaith America is working to bridge this gap between religion and medicine, especially as our nation’s religious diversity is on the rise. That’s why we’re excited to announce a Religion and Health Curriculum Grants program that invites faculty from religious studies and health fields to work together to prepare pre-health students with basic religious literacy, skills to engage across lines of religious difference, and practice discussing religion with patients and colleagues.  


Religion and Health Curriculum Grant

This grant funds teams of health and religion faculty to create religious diversity curriculum for courses in health fields.

Up to fifteen grants of $4,000 will be awarded to pairs of health and religion faculty to support their creation of religious diversity curriculum for courses in health fields. Examples might include nursing clinicals that include religion among variables considered in the course of treatment, public health courses that expose students to diverse faith communities as trusted allies, or case study-based seminars where pre-med students grapple thoughtfully with the role of religion in healthcare.  

The Religion and Health Curriculum Grant program grows out of our commitment to help colleges and universities better equip the next generation of civic leaders to engage worldview difference in ways that strengthen our social fabric. In addition, it aligns with Interfaith America’s growing Faith & Health work, which goes beyond higher ed to catalyze the positive engagement of religious diversity in healthcare more broadly. Motivated by our network of Emerging Leaders, including Aamir Hussain and Anu Gorukanti, as well as the impact of our national Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors program, we’re working to inspire, equip, and connect leaders from across the health ecosystem who’ve made great strides toward bridging the faith and health divide—or are committed to doing so. 

This summer, Interfaith America will partner with Chautauqua Institution to offer a week of programming at the intersection of faith and health. From July 10 to 14, 2023, institutional and thought leaders from integrative medicine, faith-based organizations, medical education, health systems, and public health will share their insights and vision as part of the Institution’s afternoon Interfaith Lecture series.  

Together, these two initiatives reflect Interfaith America’s commitment to unlocking the positive potential of religious diversity across our civic landscape. From classrooms to board rooms to exam rooms, we’re excited to play a part in helping to coalesce widespread efforts to bridge the faith and health divide.