Campus Conditions and College Experiences that Facilitate Friendship across Worldview Differences

December 22, 2022

Supporting students’ friendships across social boundaries is one powerful way in which colleges and universities can contribute to the civic mission of higher education. Using data from the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey (IDEALS), this national, multi-institutional study in The Journal of Higher Education, examines how institutional conditions and various forms of student engagement predicted the number of interworldview friendships among college students at the end of their first year on campus.

“Colleges and universities talk so much about their civic missions to prepare 21st-century graduates who can work in diverse workplaces and change their communities for the better,” said Tara D. Hudson, an assistant professor of higher-education administration at Kent State University to the Chronicle of Higher Education. “But one of the most powerful ways to do that is through helping students cultivate these boundary-crossing friendships.”

Dr. Hudson is a co-author of the report. The other authors include Alyssa N. Rockenbach, a professor of higher education at North Carolina State University, and Matthew J. Mayhew, professor of educational administration at Ohio State University.

Key Findings:

  • At the community/institution level, we found the availability of co-curricular opportunities for interworldview engagement to be positively associated with interworldview friendship at the end of the first year, while several other institutional features were negatively associated.
  • At the network/group level, we found positive associations between both formal and informal social engagement and interworldview friendship at the end of the first year, while associations between academic majors and interworldview friendship varied.
  • Although some college students may gravitate toward interworldview friendships regardless of institutional conditions, our results affirm that these relationships thrive when structures are in place to encourage social interactions and cooperation across worldview differences.
Read the full report

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