Building an Ignatian Ummah: The Experience of Muslim International Students at a U.S. Jesuit University
Rebecca Stephenson, Ph.D.
In 2020, over a million international students enrolled at universities in the United States. A significant percent come from Muslim-majority countries whose governments sponsor their education abroad. As overall international enrollments decrease, recruiting this population remains attractive to U.S. institutions. International students face the challenge of entering higher education in a foreign country and culture, navigating their education during a time of political battles over immigration and issues of diversity. Muslim students face prejudice and exclusion due to Islamophobia in the U.S. Universities have a responsibility to understand and fully support students from whom they benefit financially. This study examined the experiences of 11 Muslim international students and alumni at one American Jesuit university, exploring how being at a religiously affiliated institution influenced their university experience. A qualitive approach was utilized to understand their experiences through semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Findings confirmed that Muslim international students experience multiple challenges and demonstrated the importance of community and impact of institutional interfaith identity on supporting and shaping their experiences. The framework of Community Cultural Wealth and spiritual capital highlight the tools and strengths students engage to successfully navigate their time at the institution. Findings support the opportunities universities have to push back against Islamophobia by providing opportunities for all to engage with and learn from one another, and show Jesuit universities’ institutional interfaith identities and educational pedagogy as critical in helping students fully develop themselves and influence the good of society.
Samay, Csilla, "Building an Ignatian Ummah: The Experience of Muslim International Students at a U.S. Jesuit University" (2021). May 3, 2021 - 2021 Doctoral Research. 2.