U.S. Religious Diversity and International Students

By Katz, Eve | International Educator, July/August 2010 | Go to article overview

U.S. Religious Diversity and International Students


Katz, Eve, International Educator


BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE UNITED STATES, students from abroad already know they will be coming to a large and diverse nation. Even so, once here, they may find the great variety of elements in American culture, many of them reflected on college campuses, difficult to comprehend and deal with. And because one of the most sensitive aspects of culture is religious belief and practices (which often influences social and political values), introducing international students to the diversity of religious faiths in the United States is an important challenge for college administrators. It is a challenge they approach in many different ways.

The Religious Landscape in the United States

In 2008 the Pew Research Center issued a fascinating report on the U.S. religious landscape, detailing that religious affiliation in the United States is both very diverse and extremely fluid. If shifts within Protestantism are included, about 44 percent of adults have "either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether." Among the foreign-born adult population, Catholics outnumber Protestants by nearly a two-to-one margin. Immigrants are also disproportionately represented among several world religions in the United States, including Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The report describes the constant movement of the American religious scene, pointing out that immigration is adding even more diversity to the American religious mosaic: "Muslims, roughly two- thirds of whom are immigrants, account for roughly 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population; and Hindus, more than eightin-ten of whom are foreign born, now account for approximately 0.4 percent of the population." Like the broader country around them, college communities also reflect religious heterogeneity, and the presence of international students- like immigrants in the general population- adds to the diversity of religions on campus and serves as a natural way to educate about various religious beliefs and practices in this country as around the world.

International Offices and Orientation Activities

"Increasingly international offices are under pressure to focus on high- impact areas where students need information quite quickly to make a successful adjustment and transition to campus life," says Ivor Emmanuel, director of the University of California-Berkeley's international office. He speaks from experience at the University of Illinois and Berkeley, both large campuses, the latter with hundreds of student organizations. Anita Gaines, director of the International Student and Scholar Services Office (ISSSO) at the University of Houston, makes a similar point: "We are one of the two most ethnically-diverse major research universities in the nation [the other is Rutgers], with international students from 132 countries. We focus on helping international students with their legal status. During orientation we cover topics to assist them with campus and city acclimation." In an institution like the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Elizabeth Matthews, director of the institutions's international center, points out that with 3,000 international students, one-on-one advising is usually on issues related to immigration.

The multiple pressing demands on international offices means that many work with other institutional units on matters involving religion. Orientation activities provide one frequent occasion for doing this. Houston's ISSSO organizes a well-attended Information Fair for new international students who have a chance to circulate and get information at booths representing some of the 40 international/ethnic organizations and more than 45 religious organizations on campus. Houston's International Office also actively participates in Diversity Week and International Education Week, with the assistance of campus organizations.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

U.S. Religious Diversity and International Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.