Spring 2019 4 Thursdays – 497-411: Developing Concepts for an Interfaith Campus Prayer Space

Meeting Days/Time
Thursdays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Steve Beck (Undergraduate Education – with expertise in architecture) (sbeck.creo@gmail.com)
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome.

The diverse undergraduate and graduate student population at Illinois Tech has increased the demand on the availability of interfaith prayer space. Based on a survey of students, with 2,979 respondents, an improved interfaith prayer space would be valued and used.

The objectives of this IPRO project are to identify/assess candidate on-campus interfaith prayer spaces in a thorough and objective fashion, identify any legal restrictions or policy issues, and develop conceptual designs for an Illinois Tech interfaith prayer space. By achieving these objectives, the potential long term impact of an interfaith prayer space will enhance a culture of inclusion at Illinois Tech, improve the quality of life on campus and contribute to student recruitment efforts.

The IPRO team will undertake research that identifies and characterizes the candidate on-campus interfaith prayer spaces. A first step will be to study the survey findings in order to group the needs and desires of the user population. This may lead to follow-up conversations with representative groups of students and other stakeholders, including faculty, staff, university leadership and alumni, as well as respectful observation of how prayer space needs are currently served.

As a result of this first research phase, the IPRO team will create a requirements document to guide its further study, analysis, concept development, planning and recommendations. The IPRO team will further brainstorm and gather ideas about candidate interfaith prayer spaces on campus and at other universities. Visits to candidate spaces and prayer spaces at other universities will be helpful in developing perspectives for an interfaith prayer space at Illinois Tech.  Along with the requirements document, this investigative effort can lead to creating a decision matrix that considers the specifications and decision criteria in evaluating the merits of various interfaith prayer space options. This evaluation will consider the potential of a space to serve the needs of the full range of faiths represented at Illinois Tech, any physical space or building limitations, legal restrictions and guidelines that might include accommodations for people with disabilities, security considerations and usage policies, costs and sources of funds to renovate the candidate spaces, and the potential for a space to address the needs of the intended range of potential users.

Based on the information gathered in the research phase and organized through a comparative analysis of alternative space options, and in the context of the requirements document and field work, the IPRO team will develop a proposal for on-campus interfaith prayer space. The team will take a human-centered approach and develop design concepts along with cost estimates. The IPRO team’s proposal will be presented to key stakeholders, with feedback captured to guide subsequent study and investment decision making.

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