Arts & Humanities

Utah State University Awarded $30,000 Grant to Advance Religious Pluralism

By Andrea DeHaan |

An audience listens to opening remarks by doctoral student Amand Hardiman at a Juneteenth Interfaith Devotional at USU in 2022. (Photo Credit: USU/Jesse Walker)

Utah State University has been chosen to receive a $30,000 Advancing Religious Pluralism Grant from Interfaith America. This grant is considered a testament to USU's commitment to fostering interfaith cooperation and learning on campus, as reflected in the innovative projects proposed by the university's Interfaith Initiative.

USU President Elizabeth Cantwell emphasized the value of the project, given the “escalating conflicts on the world scene that directly impact our students.”

“We recognize the importance of this work to strengthen strategic plans, programs, initiatives, resources and personnel across the institution that equip students to engage across lines of religious differences to contribute to a sustainable and thriving democracy,” she said.

The primary goal of the Advancing Religious Pluralism Grant is to support USU in developing and expanding its interfaith infrastructure. It aims to equip members of the university community with tools to effectively engage with a diversity of viewpoints and foster an environment of inclusivity and understanding.

“We believe that Utah State can become a national model for promoting religious pluralism with assistance from this grant,” said Todd Green, director of campus partnerships for Interfaith America.

Monies from the award will be used to expand USU’s capacity to offer university and community-based trainings, which will be implemented through two interrelated programs.

“The first will use a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach to provide interfaith leadership skills and knowledge to students, faculty and staff interested in offering workshops to introduce basic skills for engaging across religious differences,” said Bonnie Glass-Coffin, the director of the Interfaith Initiative and the university’s Interfaith Leadership Certificate.

“The second program will help us navigate the many ‘difficult dialogues’ about religion that are increasingly prevalent in our country and our world,” she said.

Development and delivery will be guided by multiple departments and units, including the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Heravi Peace Institute; the Religious Studies and Anthropology programs; and USU’s Conversational Space-Makers.

Glass-Coffin and students from the Interfaith Initiative were among several representatives from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to participate in USU’s 2023 Religious Inclusive Excellence Symposium. While USU already offers an 18-credit-hour interdisciplinary certificate in Interfaith Leadership both in-person and online, Glass-Coffin looks forward to the potential impact and the many opportunities associated with the Interfaith America award.

“We are so excited to be able to implement these programs at USU,” she said.

A cornerstone of Utah State University, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences brings together faculty members engaged in original research and creative activities to teach and mentor students who aspire to be leaders in their professions and communities. Degrees in humanities and social sciences cultivate highly adaptable professional skills in students through teaching effective communication, research, data analysis and creative problem-solving.


Andrea DeHaan
Communications Editor
College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Bonnie Glass-Coffin
Director of the Interfaith Leadership Certificate Program
College of Humanities and Social Sciences


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