USU’s Interfaith Initiative works to bridge religious gaps through interfaith conference

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Utah State University’s Interfaith Initiative will host a conference Friday and Saturday at the University Inn focused on helping participants understand religious differences and encouraging all faiths.

Over 100 students from 10 university campuses in Utah and southern Idaho will attend the conference.

The conference’s sessions will help attendees view relationships and communication through “an interfaith lens,” said Bonnie Glass-Coffin, the founder of USU’s Interfaith Initiative and an anthropology professor at USU.

Glass-Coffin said the challenge is to provide students — as tomorrow’s leaders in a multi-religious world — with the vision, knowledge and skills to navigate religious diversity in ways that build cooperative relationships across potential faith divides in service to a common good.  

Hannah Bundy, a junior communication studies major, said she feels the conference will be a safe space for students of religious and nonreligious backgrounds to feel like they have a place to talk about subjects out of their comfort zone.

Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a national organization that promotes positive religious diversity on college campuses. The interfaith leadership lab at Utah State University is sponsored by IFYC.

This interfaith leadership lab is one of many that have been hosted on college campuses nationwide.

Seth Marsden and Bundy are the two students helping Glass-Coffin complete tasks for the event.

Marsden and Bundy have collaborated on a handful of tasks, such as designing the poster that is displayed around campus.

“Both of them have been instrumental,” Glass-Coffin said.

Marsden, an undeclared freshman, said he likes interfaith work.

He took on the task of putting together roommate lists for all of the students who are staying at the University Inn and making sure they’re settled.

Marsden also communicates with partners from other campuses.

Bundy has been involved with designing graphics and lawn signs and posting on the conference’s Twitter account.

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Photo by Ethan Babcock