Major New Survey Effort Will Measure Higher Education’s Effect on Students’ Diversity Views

IDEALS_upper_right2This fall, 100,000 students at 130 colleges and universities nationwide, will begin to participate in a four-year study that will determine how their views on issues of faith and diversity change during their time at college. The Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS) is being conducted by Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit organization, in conjunction with researchers at North Carolina State University and New York University. The multi-million project is being funded by an anonymous donor.

Researchers aim to answer several key questions, including:

  • How do experiences with diversity affect students’ attitudes and behaviors?
  • Do students perceive their campus to be a safe and supportive place for those of differing religious and nonreligious beliefs to express themselves?
  • How do students interact with others who have different world views?

Alyssa Rockenbach, an associate professor of higher education at North Carolina State University, explained that “we’re trying to determine which educational experiences help students grow in their appreciation of others with diverse worldviews. In a society with many perspectives and religions, we will need leaders with a pluralistic orientation that gives them an appreciation of not only differences but also values that people have in common.”

Matthew Mayhew, an associate professor of higher education at New York University, added that “the long-term design of the study will help identify how we prepare students to be global citizens who understand other worldviews and are able to work productively across differences.”

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