The Corner

Education

Should Colleges Focus on Religious Diversity Too?

With college officials obsessed with so many other kinds of diversity, why not add religious diversity as well?

In today’s Martin Center article, Anthony Hennen writes about a movement to have colleges do so.

Why? Hennen answers, “One argument is for colleges to teach religious literacy because it’s a vital career skill. Another sees religion as an equity issue like race and gender, and colleges need to make religious accommodations for students to create an inclusive campus. The influence of both arguments isn’t likely to go away soon, either.”

The contention that students become more valuable to employers if they have been exposed to racial diversity is an old (and dubious) one; now it’s being used to get religious diversity into the curriculum and campus.

Another claim is that students will feel more “welcomed” if the school is making a big, splashy commitment to religious diversity.

Hennen reports that quite a few colleges have made some moves in this direction, including required courses on religious diversity. “The University of Michigan, for example, is developing virtual training modules on interfaith cooperation. Utah Valley University offers interreligious, interfaith, and worldview workshops to faculty and staff,” he writes.

The people pushing for this argue that college is a place of change, and they want these “good” changes. But Hennen is skeptical, concluding, “But students are generally more interested in getting a good job or learning something about the world, rather than serving as the activist vanguard for campus administrators.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.