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 Winter/Spring 2004

Participants in the Islam seminar visit the Umayyad
(early Arab) palace on the Citadel in Amman,
Jordan. (Photo courtesy of seminar participant
Susanne Hofstra.)

Twelve CIC faculty members in various fields
participated in a well-received three-week seminar
January 3-24 on “Teaching About Islam and Middle
Eastern Culture” at the American Center of Oriental
Research in Amman, Jordan. This seminar, offered
by CIC in collaboration with the Council of
American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and
with support from the U.S. Department of State,
provided the opportunity for CIC faculty members to
learn more about the Middle East, visit
archaeological sites such as Petra and Jerash, and
think about how to develop courses or adapt existing
courses in order to give more attention to the Middle
East and/or Islam.
Participants also met with several local experts and
dignitaries, including H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin
Talal, who is a sponsor of the Royal Institute for Inter-
Faith Studies, to discuss the three monotheistic
religions of the Middle East.
Mary Ellen Lane, executive director of CAORC,
said the Council was pleased with the CIC
partnership and delighted the seminar was so well
received. She said, “CAORC hopes to continue to
offer future programs on a variety of issues for faculty
members from CIC institutions. We are particularly
glad to be able to reach out to undergraduate
teachers in this way.”
Katherine Hoffman of Saint Anselm College (NH)
said the seminar gave her the opportunity “to study
and interact with people, gaining insight into a
culture and history that I otherwise would never have
been able to do on my own. I deeply appreciated
the hospitality and generosity of all those that I met,
and expect that the new course I am preparing on
Islamic Art and Architecture this coming fall will be
considerably richer than it would have been had I
not taken this trip.”
Other participants were equally enthusiastic about
the program. Ernest M. Limbo of Tougaloo College
(MS), said he plans to offer two new courses
because of his experience in Jordan. “These courses
are a history course tentatively titled ‘A History of the
Middle East’ and a world religions course through
the religion department. This will be the first time
that any courses dealing with Islam or the Middle
East have ever been offered at Tougaloo College,
which is a historically black, liberal arts college in
Jackson, Mississippi.”
Ed Macierowski of Benedictine College (KS) said,
“Like Rome, Jordan provides the stratification of
many historical levels at once: Nabataean, Roman,
Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, Ottoman, and
contemporary. Two of our most important guides
were professional archaeologists, Pierre Bikai (head
of ACOR) and Ghazi Bishei (former head of the
Ministry of Antiquities) who managed to out-do any
other professional guides I’ve ever heard; they
practically made the very stones to speak.”

CIC faculty members attended lectures on
About Islam and Middle Eastern Culture" during
the three-week seminar in Amman, Jordan.
(Photo courtesy of seminar participant Susanne

Craig Wansink of Virginia Wesleyan College said
the seminar was both helpful and thought-provoking.
“When you experience a snowstorm in the Middle
East, when Crown Prince Hassan speaks eloquently
about both Jordanian and American ideals, when
ordinary Jordanians on the street clearly have the
ability to differentiate between American policy, on
the one hand—and American citizens and ideals—
on the other, you then do look at life very differently
and you can’t help but be impressed…. Because of
my experiences there, I am re-writing an all-campus
lecture I am delivering on democracy, adding a one-
hour session to my New Testament course on ‘Islam,
the Qur’an, and the New Testament;’ and adding a
section to my world religions class on ‘Popular
Forms of Islam,’ among other activities.”
And Mary Hendrickson of Wilson College (PA) said
“Since coming back, I have already shared with
students in some of my classes examples from what I
learned about the culture and politics in the Middle
East. There is an urgent need for citizens of the
United States to obtain more accurate information
about the Middle East and Islam than that which is
portrayed in the mass media. As a seminar
participant, I have a responsibility to challenge my
students to think beyond the existing stereotypes.”
Participants were selected from 135 nominations.

Teaching About Islam and Middle Eastern Culture
Seminar Participants
B. Barnett Cochran,
Associate Professor, History,
Mount Vernon Nazarene University (OH)

Timothy R. Dzierba, Professor, History,
Medaille College (NY)

Catherine Cymone Fourshey,
Assistant Professor, History,
Susquehanna University (PA)

Mary Hendrickson, Associate Professor, Political
Science, Wilson College (PA)

Charles Herman, Professor, History,
University of Sioux Falls (SD)

Katherine Hoffman, Professor,
Art History, Saint Anselm College (NH)

Susanne Ursula Hofstra, Assistant Professor, Greek
and Roman Studies, Rhodes College (TN)
Ernest M. Limbo, Assistant Professor, History,
Tougaloo College (MS)

Edward Macierowski, Associate Professor,
Philosophy, Benedictine College (KS)

Nathan B. Rein, Assistant Professor, Religion,
Ursinus College (PA)

Sanford R. Silverburg, Professor, Political Science,
Catawba College (NC)

Craig S. Wansink, Professor, Religious Studies,
Virginia Wesleyan College


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Last updated: March 2004
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