January 28, 2020 – Free Speech & Peace

Fourteen Universities Show How Faculty, Students Can Create Programs That Foster Cooperation Over Conflict


Fourteen universities are joining a new pilot initiative launched by Chicago-based education nonprofit Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). Its Courageous Pluralism project brings together students and faculty on campuses across the country to leverage their diverse beliefs and backgrounds to counter polarization.

IFYC explains in their announcement:

“Political and religious polarization is threatening the very fabric of our civil society, and colleges and universities are increasingly becoming ground zero in these battles.

With a recent uptick in hate crimes and deep divisions on campuses across the country, 14 colleges and universities — including Middlebury, Brigham Young, Gordon and Oberlin — are joining a new initiative designed to bridge the religious and political divides spreading through higher education. The effort, Courageous Pluralism, will provide grants and capacity building to the schools as they work to narrow those divisions through interfaith courses, formalized ways for students with diverse viewpoints to meet and interact, and other innovative new programs

American campuses can play a critical role in re-committing to our nation’s core values, strengthening free expression while bridging diverse religious and political identities and casting a vision for an inclusive society,” says Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, the national non-profit running this program.

Courageous Pluralism kicks off on February 3 with a panel hosted by The Aspen Institute’s Inclusive America Project. Forty staff, faculty, and administrators from the participating schools will begin planning bridge-building programs on their own campuses. They will also consider initiatives and collaborations with other campuses, with each campus paired with an unlikely partner with a much different culture.

The full list of currently participating campuses includes:

  • Gordon College (MA) – Middlebury College (VT)
  • Calvin University (MI) – Grand Valley State University (MI)
  • Eastern University (PA) – Lincoln University (PA)
  • Houghton College (NY) – Ithaca College (NY)
  • Brigham Young University (UT) – Westminster College (UT)
  • Mount Vernon Nazarene University (OH) – Kenyon College (OH)
  • Spring Arbor University (OH) – Oberlin College (OH)

IFYC’s Courageous Pluralism project is supported by the Fetzer Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Explore the experiences that motivated Patel to found IFYC two decades ago here.