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Friday, March 16 • 10:30am - 11:00am
When Two Worldviews Meet: Promoting Mutual Understanding between “Secular” and Religious Students of Islamic Studies in Russia and the United States

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This presentation discusses preliminary results from two experimental co-taught courses in Islamic studies shared between the University of Michigan (U-M), USA, and St. Petersburg State University (SPBU), Russia in 2017. The innovation at SPBU consists of a preselected cohort graduated from Islamic religious colleges from across Russia, studying along with “secular” students specializing in Islamic studies. The U-M cohort was also of diverse religious, ethnic, and national backgrounds. International teams met outside class to prepare questions for the weekly synchronous whole-class discussions. In addition, each team worked on a project for presentation in class.
The courses promoted:
• Mutual appreciation, cooperation, and understanding between students of diverse religious, cultural, and national backgrounds.
• Formation of reading communities through the assignment of the same texts (in English) to both Russian and American participants in the class.
• International, interreligious dialogue within a rigorous academic framework
• The atmosphere of inclusion and mutual respect in which everyone was equally accepted and heeded as long as they had something meaningful to add to the discussion of the issues formulated by the students themselves, not their instructors.
Preliminary outcomes are based on classroom observation, student survey responses, reflections, and interviews. The positive dynamic between students suggests potential growth in respect for each other’s values, ideas and convictions in the future.

avatar for Todd Austin

Todd Austin

Instructional Technologist, University of Michigan
If you are interested in sharing classes with a foreign partner using a live videoconferencing link, please contact me! We are looking to develop new courses in all subject areas and can help you to find a partner at the University of Michigan. Bio: Todd has led the Videoconferencing... Read More →

Alexander Knysh

Professor of Islamic Studies
Professor Knysh’s academic interests include Islamic mysticism (Sufism), Qur’anic studies, the history of Muslim theological, philosophical and juridical thought, and modern Islamic/Islamist movements in comparative perspective. He has numerous academic and instructional publications... Read More →

Friday March 16, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Great Hall FIT Conference Venue