The Certificate in Interfaith Studies is open to all undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This Certificate will help students to understand both practical and theoretical aspects of interfaith work.
Interfaith work is undertaken in a number of settings around the world, from campus groups interested in fostering dialogue and mutual understanding or focused on solving contemporary problems to large non-governmental organizations with a focus on social justice, peace activism, the environment, or other concerns on both local and global levels.
Academic issues that are relevant to interfaith work include the interrelation of globalization and religion, the role that religion plays in both fostering and ameliorating conflict, religious diversity, theological and philosophical commonalities among religious traditions, and attitudes of religious insiders toward religious outsiders.
Among the courses required for the certificate is “Interfaith Service and Theory” (REL 332). This course involves
- an interfaith internship or service learning experience and
- an introduction to the major theoretical issues involved in interfaith work.
The Interfaith Studies certificate will provide students with knowledge and skills that will help to prepare them to work effectively in a number of venues, from facilitating dialogue and cooperation in their local faith communities to working with global NGOs. The Interfaith Studies Certificate would be a valuable credential for students who are considering working in any context, domestic or international, in which an understanding of religious differences may be of paramount importance or in which there is regular interaction with a diverse clientele. For some students their service with a partner organization will provide an opportunity to explore a possible career field and to make professional contacts.
Students must complete 9 hours of course work:
REL 231 Religion and Philosophy (available in Fall 2017)
REL 332 Interfaith Service and Theory (available in Fall 2017)
Three hours of elective coursework. Possible courses include:
REL 270 Religion, Ethics and the Environment
REL 341 Native People and Christianity
REL 344 Medieval Jewish Thought
REL 461 Indigenous Traditions
REL 482 Muslim-Christian Interactions
REL 481 Muslim Ethics in the Global Age
An up-to-date list of Religion courses that will satisfy this elective can be found on the Religion website under “Interfaith Certificate” (under construction). With the approval of a Department of Religion advisor, this elective may also be satisfied with a course in another field (such as Psychology, Political Science, or Social Work). A suitable course might deal with such topics as these: group dynamics, dialogue facilitation, conflict resolution, and productive interpersonal and intergroup communication.
All students pursuing the Certificate in Interfaith Studies must meet with a Department of Religion advisor to discuss their program of study and must submit a Certificate Plan of Study.