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Courses, Curricula, and Tools

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Student Interfaith Groups: Finding the Right Structure

Four Types of Student Interfaith Groups

Interfaith Council

Type 1

Interfaith Council

An interfaith council is a representative body of student leaders from various organizations with a specific purpose and set of goals. The presidents or representative officers of other faith-based or intentionally secular student groups often sit on interfaith councils to discuss ongoing collaborative projects around dialogue and community service. In addition, these councils sometimes oversee specific initiatives.

Student Organization

Type 2

Student Organization

A group of students that forms around a common interest in interfaith dialogue and service, applies for and receives recognition from their student government association or student activities board is an effective structure for consistent interfaith activism on campus. Student organizations often run ongoing interfaith dialogue and service projects are an active and visible presence on campus. The leaders of these groups are often outspoken and charismatic leaders who draw their peers to service and cooperation. Student organizations also provide space for peer learning and supportive environments for the exploration of shared values between traditions.

Interfaith Advisory Committee

Type 3

Interfaith Advisory Committee

An Interfaith Advisory Committee is a body of people from across the university, including faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Committees like these often oversee initiatives to integrate interfaith cooperation into every area of the institution – student life, religious and spiritual life, academics, community service, and campus policies. Student members are usually those heavily involved in interfaith activities and leadership programs, and sit on these committees to provide the student perspective.

Interfaith Leadership Program

Type 4

Interfaith Leadership Program

Some institutions have interfaith leadership programs such as internships or fellowships funded by the university and run by dedicated staff. These programs often sit within the Office of Religious Life and have an application, selection, and hiring process for students interested. Cohorts of leaders tend to be smaller, and have specific expectations for participation in the programs. These leaders learn skills for dialogue facilitation, building religious literacy, event planning, and community building. Leaders are sometimes paid (bonus!) for their work, and programs usually involve some formal recognition for services to the school (i.e. a special certification or recognition ceremony at graduation).

Next Steps

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