The Islamic Studies Program is a generative space for new approaches to teaching and research about Islam and Muslim communities that is created in partnership with community stakeholders. We have received grant funding to support projects like 99 Clay Vessels, a collaborative socially engaged multimedia art and storytelling project created by Muslim women upholding justice within their own communities. Faith in the Vaccine is a partnership with Interfaith Youth Core and American Muslim Health Professionals that supports equitable access to health and wellness by mobilizing students to address COVID vaccine hesitancy through religious and faith-based community organizations.
Special community engaged courses through our program also offer experiential opportunities in and around Baltimore that introduce students to lived religion and encourage self-awareness, critical consciousness, and sustained and impactful connections with organizations and communities in the city. Finally, a Wabash grant supports us in exploring and piloting community-engaged models of teaching in the Islamic Studies classroom with a cohort of publicly engaged scholars and scholar-activists from around the country.
Each of these opportunities is an expression of our vision to establish long-lasting partnerships outside the academy that meet community needs, honor lived experience as a powerful form of knowledge, and support our students in asking: Who am I, what do I stand for, and how do I learn more about and contribute to the well-being of the multiple communities that I intersect with? How do I gain an understanding of structural injustice that connects theory to practice so that the impact I make in this world resonates, is long-lasting, and fosters equity? And how do I develop the humility to reassess, rework and even set aside ideas that don’t give life outside the ivory tower?