Interfaith Photovoice is an arts-based approach to interfaith understanding. By using mobile-phone photography, this project is designed to help capture the experiences and stories of participants of diverse worldview identities (religious, secular, or spiritual), to enable students to find their voice through photography.
Through a series of conversations guided by a facilitator, students will explore one another’s lived experiences, clarify their thoughts, and organize their ideas into themes. Prior to each meeting, attendees are given a prompt and asked to take a series of photographs related to it. A sample prompt could be, "In what ways do your beliefs, practices, and values show up in your everyday life?"
The cohort will culminate in three pop-up gallery exhibitions, curated by the participants with the help of the facilitators. During the exhibitions, participants are invited to be stationed around the gallery and given the opportunity to talk with attendees about their experience and the narratives represented in the exhibition.
The goals of this cohort are to strengthen relationships on campus, create a sense of solidarity among the participating students, raise awareness of experiential differences on campus, and instigate change.
Ready to jump in?
A group of 15-25 students will be selected to participate in the Interfaith Photovoice on Campus cohort, which will start in January and continue through April 2024. Students will gather for 5-7 sessions over the course of the semester, the dates and times of which will be determined by group consensus. Participants are also encouraged to attend the three culminating exhibitions, one on each of the three GVSU campuses (Allendale, Pew, and Health Campus) in April, so that they can share about their experience with community members, University leadership, and fellow students.
A driving factor for this program is hearing from underrepresented and marginalized religious, spiritual, and secular identities on campus.
At the completion of this program, a $250 stipend will be awarded to all participants in compensation for their commitment to the program.
Do I have to be a (good) photographer?
These days, everyone is a photographer. If you used your mobile phone to snap a photo in the last week, you have the experience needed to participate. You just need to be willing to use a camera to tell your story.
Do I need to be religious to participate?
Not necessarily. We are hoping for a diverse group of students from a wide variety of backgrounds in this cohort. This could be from explicitly religious communities or from entirely secular ones. The goal is to use photography to explore how our various worldview identities shape our experiences, whatever those identities may be.
What kind of time commitment are we talking about?
We will have 6 sessions, each of which will be roughly two hours long. Outside of our meetings, expect to spend a few hours a week taking photos on campus and in the community to share at the following session. Usually, participants will bring around 5 to 10 photos to share per session.
What if I don't have a smart phone?
We will work with our Photovoice facilitators to provide you with a digital camera for use during the cohort.
How much does it cost?
In fact, it's better than free - we will pay you to participate! A stipend of $250 will be offered to students who complete the cohort. Be sure to apply!
Will my name and photos be shared publicly?
Only photos selected by the group will be included in the public-facing exhibitions or in the digital gallery at the end of the cohort. Typically, we include first names on photo captions, but we could keep it anonymous if you prefer.
What should I expect from the sessions?
Interfaith Photovoice founder, Roman Williams, and Kaufman Program Coordinator, Liz English, will help facilitate the conversation. We're hoping to have around 15 students as a part of this cohort.
Each session will involve a prompt - questions such as, "What does gratitude look like to you?" or "Where do you find a sense of peace on campus?" - and each student's photo responses. Usually, students will bring in 5-10 photos in response to the previous week's prompt and share them with the group. Near the end of the cohort, significant time will be spent on curating the final exhibitions - deciding which photos to use and how to organize them into a coherent whole.
When and where will the group meet?
The group will meet on the following Monday evenings from 4pm-6pm on the Allendale campus.
February 5 | February 12 | February 26
March 11 | March 18 | March 25
The three final exhibitions (one on each of the main GVSU campuses) will take place during the week of April 8th.
In order to build trust and show our mutual commitment to the success of this program, attendance is mandatory at all six sessions.
How do I register?
Reach out to Liz English at [email protected] to apply.