New Freshman Cluster on Global Islam

New Freshman Cluster on Global Islam

New Global Islam Freshmen Cluster expands course offerings and analytical approaches.

Thanks to last year’s National Endowment for the Humanities grant and a dedicated and visionary team of multidisciplinary faculty, there is a new and exciting opportunity for incoming UCLA freshmen to learn about Islamic cultures across the world. The course planning grant phase brought together a team of CNES affiliated faculty to develop a successful freshman cluster proposal, setting in motion a new direction to learn about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and beyond. The resulting pedagogy is an innovative, year-long, three-quarter Freshman Cluster on Global Islam. The course sequence restructures the analytical frameworks with which students approach Islam as a global religion by emphasizing the profound diversity of localized beliefs and practices as well as historical literacy. Beginning Fall 2020, the cluster will guide a cohort of entering students through an in-depth understanding of the region, providing them with expanded insight about Islam beyond national borders, while fulfilling several general education (GE) requirements.

The year-long Global Islam freshman cluster offers a unique opportunity for students to direct their thematic focus beyond the geographic borders of the MENA region while benefitting from the interdisciplinary methods and approaches of UCLA’s expert faculty who will introduce them to Islam’s dynamic heritage. The collaborative effort is led by Professor Asma Sayeed, the Director of Islamic Studies Program at UCLA, who specializes in early Islamic history and prosopography. The team-taught course also includes Professors Susan Slyomovics, a renowned anthropologist with MENA expertise, Christine Chism, who works on medieval literature and drama in the Department of English, and Jeffrey Guhin, a sociologist whose research focuses on education and religion. Additional guest lectures will include faculty from NELC, History, and World Arts and Cultures.

Global Islam counts towards four GE requirements – two in Society and Culture and two in Humanities – and simultaneously fulfills the Writing II requirement. Due to its multidisciplinary nature, another substantial benefit of the Global Islam cluster is that it provides students the opportunity to explore the expansive geography, diverse culture, and history of Islam in many of its variations over time and space, offering nuanced and variegated perspectives along with critical thinking and methods to analyze materials and commentary. The skills practiced in the Global Islam cluster will give students an intellectual space to thrive and flourish as they continue in their studies.

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Published: Tuesday, October 6, 2020