Austin Community College District’s (ACC) Center for Peace & Conflict Studies has been awarded a prestigious $10,000 grant from Interfaith America. This grant, one of only 11 Inspiring Campus Change grants given out this year, will fund a vital research project to deepen our understanding of students’ religious, secular, and spiritual identities.

Interfaith America‘s grants support higher education institutions in promoting religious diversity and pluralism. According to Interfaith America, this grant will provide “opportunities for institutions of higher education to promote religious pluralism and to create welcoming environments for people of diverse religious, secular, and spiritual identities” to help “campuses engage constructively with people of diverse religious backgrounds and divergent ideologies, and to model what it means to live and thrive in a diverse democracy.” 

“The Inspiring Campus Change team at Interfaith America is excited to support the development of more comprehensive interfaith infrastructures and strategies at Austin Community College. The proposed project outlines a clear plan to strengthen the institution’s knowledge and engagement of religious diversity on campus, with the goal of developing strategies to advance religious pluralism,” says Bex Blackburn, Interfaith America program operations manager. 

The project will be administered through the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies by a team including Shirin Catterson Khosropour, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center; Matty Martinez-Mandell, Coordinator of the Center; and Grant Potts, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Humanities. The project will involve group interviews with students across multiple campuses and collecting collegewide data on students’ religious, secular, and spiritual identities. The findings will guide recommendations for enhancing inclusivity.

ACC qualified for the grant by participating in the Interfaith, Spiritual, Religious, and Secular Campus Climate Index, a national survey assessing campus inclusivity. This national index helps campuses better assess how welcoming they are to students from a variety of religious, spiritual, and secular backgrounds. It is a collaboration between researchers at Ohio State University and North Carolina State University, funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. 

The Center for Peace & Conflict Studies at ACC, founded over 10 years ago, focuses on peace, justice, and conflict understanding. 

For more information, visit ACC’s Center for Peace & Conflict Studies webpage.