Grant to fund new SU certificate program

Shenandoah University will be developing curriculum this year for a new certificate program in line with a $10,000 grant from the Interfaith Youth Core and the Teagle Foundation.

Undergraduate students studying in seven different areas at the university will be able to pursue the Interreligious Leadership for the Professions certificate program next fall.

Kevin Minister, assistant professor of religion at SU, said religion and pre-professional faculty members worked together to develop the idea for the grant.

“It was a really a way of creating a program that allowed the religion department to better serve our pre-professional students as they prepare to go into whatever field they’re going into, so they can better navigate religious diversity in their area,” he said.

The certificate will require 12 credit hours obtained through four classes: two taken in the religion program and two taken through their pre-professional track. Minister said the religion courses would likely be general education courses, while the other two would fall within the different pre-professional tracks.

“The program was really designed thinking about, ‘How do we make this accessible for as many students who might want to do it as possible?'” he said. “The design of the program is really meant to accommodate that. We’re really trying to not take away from their existing pre-professional education, but rather build that up.”

Minister said the two religion courses would be a course in navigating religious diversity and another titled “Interreligious Engagement and Civic Cooperation.” Professors in the schools of business, criminal justice, education, public health, nursing, mass communication and the conservatory would develop the other two courses, tailor fit to their respective schools.

Faculty will be working on the courses and curriculum required for the certificate this year in anticipation for next fall. Eight students, at least one from each field of study, will be placed on a pre-professional student leadership team to help guide the process from a student’s perspective. Minister said that the grant will see a broad impact on students with help from some university-wide cooperation.

“I was overwhelmed by their support for the grant project,” he said of the faculty in different areas of study at SU. “This is only possible because of the support that all these different areas gave into the project.”

This grant and certificate program follow somewhat of an SU tradition in teaching students how to be global citizens, Minister said. The program follows a revamping of the university’s religion major and other grants to the university for fostering religious understanding in the first year seminar curriculum.

“This is a really uniquely Shenandoah program in the way that it brings the liberal learning and the pre-professional students together to help prepare our students to be 21st century professionals,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com