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NEH grant funds “Muslim American History and Life” seminar

| August 22, 2017

Edward Curtis

A National Endowment for the Humanities grant will ensure that a three-week seminar titled “Muslim American History and Life” will continue for a third year during the summer of 2018.

Professor Edward Curtis IV, professor of religious studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, directs the seminar.

Open to K-12 educators across the nation, the seminar emphasizes the contributions of Muslims to U.S. history and culture while also giving teachers an opportunity to develop lesson plans for their classrooms.

“The course’s goal is to equip teachers with the knowledge they need to integrate Muslim American history into their classrooms,” Curtis said. Participants learn how Muslims have contributed to the economic, political, and cultural life of the United States since the 1800s. They also learn about the diversity of religious identity and practice, the importance of race and ethnicity, and the role of gender in Muslim American communities.

The class meets Monday through Friday for three hours. Then attendees have time to complete class readings and work on individual teaching projects. Each scholar receives a $2,700 stipend to help with travel, room and board during the course.

Teaching projects include lesson plans that the teachers will put to immediate use. For example, one English teacher from North Carolina integrated Muslim American writing into units on transcendentalism and civil rights. A government teacher used the case of Muhammad Ali. v. The United States (1971) to design a unit about the First Amendment and the founders’ different interpretations of religious liberty. A history teacher used the voices of Muslim American teenagers to teach her world civilizations students about fasting during Ramadan.

Curtis, a Millennium Chair of the Liberal Arts, recently pledged ten $1,000 grants for the best ideas to combat Islamophobia in Indianapolis. His work has long centered on Islam and Muslim history and culture. His recent work includes editing the forthcoming volume, “The Practice of Islam in America,” and “Muslim Americans in the Military: Centuries of Service.” 

“A lot of my work is devoted to increasing knowledge and ultimately understanding of Muslim history and life in the United States,” Curtis said. “I can’t think of a better way to do that than to train instructors how to teach their students about Muslims and Islam.”

The application deadline for the 2018 session is March 1, 2018.