At the Interfaith Leadership Summit in Chicago this week, the nation’s premier interfaith organization will debut a completely new way of learning interfaith leadership skills.

This dynamic, state-of-the art class doesn’t just teach about the theory of interfaith cooperation, it uses games, videos and contemporary examples of interfaith leadership to allow students to see it in action and explore why it matters. In the 20-year history of the organization, this is the first fully self-paced course on interfaith leadership to be offered to the public, and those who take the course come away with a “Certificate in Interfaith Leadership” for the first time. This credential demonstrates proficiency in essential interfaith leadership knowledge and skills. It can be linked to (and verified through) a certificate-holder’s resume, LinkedIn page, or other digital profiles, setting the individual apart as particularly adept at and committed to interfaith leadership and skill-building.  

Interfaith America Magazine recently sat down to chat with Noah Silverman and Connie Meyer of Interfaith America’s Learning Team to ask them about this new certificate opportunity. 

 

How can someone earn this new “Certificate in Interfaith Leadership”? 

We want people to acquire essential interfaith leadership knowledge and to start putting that knowledge into practice via live skill-building. We’ve designed a couple of different pathways for achieving this and to accommodate different learning preferences and logistical needs. To achieve this certificate you can either: 

  • Independently complete our online course, “Foundations of Interfaith Leadership” and attend an Interfaith Leadership Summit in Chicago, 

OR 

  • Complete “Foundations of Interfaith Leadership LIVE,” an online course that includes both independent work and live skill-building with a community of other people enrolled in the course. 

What’s the difference between these two paths? Why would someone choose one or the other? 

The first option is ideal for the college students and educators who join us for the Interfaith Leadership Summit each year. That Summit experience provides opportunities for the critical relationship- and skill-building that’s required to learn interfaith leadership. 

The second option is ideal for folks who aren’t college students or educators, or for students and educators who can’t make it to an annual Summit. It’s also great for anyone who would prefer to engage the Foundations material in community, rather than independently. 

By the way, “Foundations of Interfaith Leadership LIVE” is offered in collaboration with our partners at Interfaith Philadelphia, who will be designing and facilitating the live portions of the course. They specialize in designing online spaces where people can develop interfaith leadership skills. We’re really excited to be able to bring their good work into this offering. 

Why would someone want to earn a Certificate in Interfaith Leadership? 

We’ve heard from many current and aspiring interfaith leaders that they would like opportunities to continue to grow their skills for application in their day-to-day lives. The course work and practice that’s part of this certificate will strengthen their ability to serve as interfaith leaders every day – whether through their relationships, work, or personal lives.  

What’s more, employers in all sectors are increasingly seeking folks with the types of interpersonal and communication skills that are at the heart of interfaith leadership (sometimes misleadingly referred to as “soft skills,” when in fact these are some of the hardest skills to develop). A person who has earned a Certificate in Interfaith Leadership from Interfaith America demonstrates to employers, colleagues, and their broader network that they have achieved a credentialed level of foundational interfaith leadership knowledge and skill. These individuals show up in the world as particularly committed interfaith leaders and are backed by strong credibility of Interfaith America as the nation’s leading interfaith organization. The digital certificate is a gold-standard Credly certificate, which means that potential employers and others can easily verify the content and extent of their learning. The certificate can be linked to a person’s resume or LinkedIn page, setting them apart from other applicants or professionals. 

What do you want to tell people about the course? 

First, the Foundations of Interfaith Leadership course is unlike any learning opportunity Interfaith America has offered before. Thanks to our partners at ReligionAndPublicLife.org, who helped us build this state-of-the-art online course and who host it within their amazing social learning community, this course is interactive, dynamic, and fun. This is the first fully self-paced (asynchronous) course on interfaith leadership that we’ve been able to offer to the public. Beyond that, the course is chock full of games, videos, and contemporary examples of interfaith leadership in action. People who experience this class don’t just learn about the theory of interfaith cooperation; they see it in action and explore why it matters. 

Things get even more fun when you get into the live dimensions of the certificate. As we mentioned, you must complete either the live version of Foundations or attend an Interfaith Leadership Summit (if they are a college student or educator) to earn the Certificate. This is because the relationship- and skill-building aspects of interfaith leadership development are so important. Certificate earners must have not only a base of knowledge, but also a foundational level of interfaith skill. We know from our many years of experience hosting Interfaith Leadership Summits that interfaith leaders love learning together. The live work you’ll do with other leaders will leave you inspired and eager to keep connecting. 

Is there any reason a person might want to complete the self-paced Foundations course without any of the live work required to earn a certificate? 

Sure. Foundations of Interfaith Leadership provides a great opportunity to learn more about interfaith leadership, interfaith cooperation, the concepts that ground these things, and real-life examples of how they work. After completing Foundations, a person will have a solid understanding of what it takes to be an interfaith leader, what interfaith leaders seek to achieve, and why any of it matters. As such, this is a great course for anyone who just wants to learn more – either as a start to their learning or as a way to bolster their existing knowledge.  

How does a person get started? 

You can enroll in Foundations of Interfaith Leadership anytime. It’s available year-round at ReligionAndPublicLife.org. Through August 2022, you can also enroll in Foundations of Interfaith Leadership LIVE. It will be offered once this fall, beginning in September, and again in spring 2023 (with spring dates TBD). To access either course, you’ll apply for admission to ReligionAndPublicLife.org via a very short form intended to set you up as a learner and verify that you’re a real person. This (along with their significant privacy protections and community guidelines) ensures that ReligionAndPublicLife.org is a safe, fun, and enriching place for folks who care about religion in civic spaces. 

Is there a cost associated with earning a Certificate in Interfaith Leadership? 

We think interfaith leadership development should be available to everyone, regardless of resources, so it’s possible to earn a certificate for no cost at all, if that option suits a person best. The asynchronous course – Foundations of Interfaith Leadership – can always be accessed for free using the scholarship code “interfaithfoundations100.” Foundations of Interfaith Leadership LIVE costs $400 at full price, but learners are welcome to pay on a sliding scale that can very significantly reduce the cost. Finally, regular Interfaith Leadership Summit registration costs $299, but there are scholarships available to cover this cost as well, if need be. 

 

Finally, why are the Foundations course and the Certificate important right now? 

At a time in our country when the forces of polarization and disunity are strong, Interfaith America is eager to support those who want to know how to live in cooperative and generative relationships with people who are different than they are. We hope these learning opportunities provide critical inspiration and skills for building bridges to anyone, anywhere, who wishes to play a role in building interfaith America.