January 28, 2014
The U-M International Institute and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation announce the establishment of the Islamic Studies Virtual Curriculum, funded by a $3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The Mellon Foundation awarded U-M the grant to create a virtual curriculum among the member universities of the CIC — the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago — and to develop and implement a collaborative, instructional program in Global Islamic Studies.
Leveraging the existing distance learning infrastructure and longstanding area studies capacities of the CIC member schools, the consortium will coordinate courses and expertise currently located across the member schools, making it possible to offer a broader Islamic Studies curriculum.
“It is difficult to overestimate the importance of a global approach to Islamic studies. Islam cannot be understood properly if viewed only in the context of particular countries or a single world region," said Pauline Jones Luong, director of the Islamic Studies Program at U-M.
"The diversity within Islam and the expansiveness of the Islamic world also make it nearly impossible for any one of the academic institutions of the CIC to offer a complete core curriculum in Islamic studies.”
The initiative will provide students at CIC member institutions a global perspective on Islam and the Muslim world, and it has the potential to influence teaching and research focusing on Islam worldwide. The curriculum will offer a broad set of courses that investigate Islam as a religion, as a civilization, as a variety of cultural traditions, and as the basis for political ideology.
The virtual curriculum model harnesses two fundamental changes in the terrain of higher education: instruction that incorporates recent advances in digital technology, and intermural cooperation among multiple institutions.
Creating such a consortium also ensures that particular Islamic studies courses are offered continually from year to year, something that is difficult for individual universities to do.
The Islamic Studies Virtual Curriculum will rely on the existing CIC CourseShare program, and the International Institute and Islamic Studies Program will assume responsibility for administering the new initiative.