Elon receives grant to launch Multifaith Scholars Program

The grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations will advance Elon's position as a national leader in multifaith work.  

Elon University has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support the establishment of a Multifaith Scholars Program. The program will involve students in a rigorous two-year experience that will prepare them to be leaders in promoting inter-religious dialogue and understanding.

“This generous support will allow Elon to expand one of the most distinctive multifaith programs in higher education,” said Elon University President Leo M. Lambert. “Through international experiences, internships, research and close mentoring relationships, our students will graduate with the skills and understanding they need to become emissaries for greater world peace in an era of religious conflict.”

Over last five years, many colleges and universities have developed programs dedicated to interfaith education and leadership. Elon has been recognized nationally for its pioneering multifaith work and has recently completed a five-year strategic plan for programs in this area. In developing this unique program, Elon will integrate four key elements: academic studies focused on history and theory, practical experiences and site visits, critical self-awareness, and studies across disciplines. Students will think critically about the character and practice of inter-religious engagement and will experiment with new models to establish a program that can serve as a model for other schools.

Students interested in becoming Multifaith Scholars will enroll in Elon’s Sages multifaith engagement program during their sophomore year and also take courses in the newly designed inter-religious studies minor. The Sages program is a four-semester co-curricular experience that engages students in multifaith work, including conflict negotiation, public speaking and spiritual autobiographical writing. Courses in the minor focus on historical and current encounters among religious communities and traditions.

Each year, five rising juniors will be selected for the Multifaith Scholars Program and granted a total of $5,000 each in funding for their research projects. Working with mentors, they will study abroad, do internships and conduct research to develop skills as multifaith leaders. During their senior year, the scholars will present their research and become campus leaders, working with faculty and coordinating events in residential neighborhoods, Elon’s Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, and the university’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society.

Graduating Multifaith Scholars will be prepared to work in university campus positions, the expanding network of interfaith organizations in urban centers, in communities of faith and nonprofit organizations, and in global positions in government and industry that promote relationships across religions and cultures.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations seek to strengthen America through philanthropic support for leadership, excellence and innovation in higher education, health and medicine, religious literacy and interfaith understanding, public educational media and environmental stewardship.