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Faculty Approves Islamic Studies Program

By Carol Brévart-Demm

The opening of the new school year gives Swarthmore students an additional academic option—to minor in Islamic Studies. A formal Islamic Studies Program, emerging steadily across several departments during the past decade, received faculty approval last spring.

Courses in religion, anthropology, history, and Arabic language and literature will provide students with insight into expressions of Islam as a religious tradition, Islamic civilization in history, and the role of Islamic discourse in today’s world.

The program is funded in large part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as individual donors; and the Mellon Foundation has further provided annual funding for a three-year visiting professorship in Middle Eastern history as well as seed money to fund a permanent position.

“We are excited about the future of Islamic Studies and keenly aware of the College’s position and responsibilities as perhaps the first liberal arts college to establish a program of its kind. It has been well over a decade in the making. There are still many dimensions of the program that I and the Islamic Studies Committee are hoping to develop further in the future. It offers a wealth of opportunities for drawing in a diverse range of faculty and disciplines to weigh in on this most relevant and timely of subjects,” says Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies Tariq al-Jamil, coordinator of the program.

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