Academic department under which the project should be listed

Geography and Anthropology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dr. Brandon Lundy

Project Type

Poster

Abstract (250 words maximum)

Michele Kumar - Email: mkumar1@students.kennesaw.edu

Diversity and Tolerance: Acceptance of Non-Christian Religious Faiths on a University Campus

The purpose of this research was to explore the diversity of non-Christian belifs on a university campus to better understand the acceptance and tolerance of these religious affiliations and belief systems. In doing humanistic, exploratory research using both deductive and inductive methods of participant observation and semi-structured interviewing, this study asked, how do the students of non-Christian faiths or belief systems at a southeastern comprehensive university feel about the level of acceptance and tolerance toward their beliefs on campus? Organizations such as the International Student Association and other non-Christian religious and spiritual organizations were purposefully selected. Findings suggest that even with programs designed to enrich the lives of students in regards to their being able to “experience” another culture, many students may not wish to participate when the “difference” being experienced is religious in nature. The university plays an important role in the relationship between feeling safe and accepted to practice a non-Christian faith on campus, which provides important support structures for student success. Finally, feelings of marginalization and exclusion occur more frequently among students of non-Christian faiths. These findings suggest important benefits to marginalized students when a progressive and tolerant stance on campus regarding religion is maintained.

KEYWORDS: Religious diversity, student retention, global citizenship, non-Christian religions and beliefs, acceptance and tolerance of religious ideologies and beliefs, Religion and beliefs within an institution, benefits to students and university from religion or beliefs

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Diversity and Tolerance: Acceptance of Non-Christian Religious Faiths on a University Campus

Michele Kumar - Email: mkumar1@students.kennesaw.edu

Diversity and Tolerance: Acceptance of Non-Christian Religious Faiths on a University Campus

The purpose of this research was to explore the diversity of non-Christian belifs on a university campus to better understand the acceptance and tolerance of these religious affiliations and belief systems. In doing humanistic, exploratory research using both deductive and inductive methods of participant observation and semi-structured interviewing, this study asked, how do the students of non-Christian faiths or belief systems at a southeastern comprehensive university feel about the level of acceptance and tolerance toward their beliefs on campus? Organizations such as the International Student Association and other non-Christian religious and spiritual organizations were purposefully selected. Findings suggest that even with programs designed to enrich the lives of students in regards to their being able to “experience” another culture, many students may not wish to participate when the “difference” being experienced is religious in nature. The university plays an important role in the relationship between feeling safe and accepted to practice a non-Christian faith on campus, which provides important support structures for student success. Finally, feelings of marginalization and exclusion occur more frequently among students of non-Christian faiths. These findings suggest important benefits to marginalized students when a progressive and tolerant stance on campus regarding religion is maintained.

KEYWORDS: Religious diversity, student retention, global citizenship, non-Christian religions and beliefs, acceptance and tolerance of religious ideologies and beliefs, Religion and beliefs within an institution, benefits to students and university from religion or beliefs