About the Institute

muslim literature table

What are the histories and stories of Muslims in America's Midwest? Muslim Americans have helped to shape the contours of life in the Midwest, serving as restauranteurs, soldiers, workers on the factory floor and in the corporate boardroom, activists in the Civil Rights movement, and researchers bringing innovations to many sectors of the American economy. 

This Institute invites teachers to explore this history and create innovative curricula to take back home. Participants will gain basic knowledge of Islam in its geographical, national, ethnic, and ideological diversity, learn about Muslims of America’s Midwest through fiction and non-fiction texts, and develop curriculum projects promoting a pluralistic approach to religious understanding.

Over the course of the two-week program, participants will meet with scholars in the fields of religious studies, children’s/ young adult literature, cultural studies, journalism, and education who will highlight new knowledge in their fields. Participants will attend a prayer service and eat meals with Muslim community members from a broad range of ethnic heritages during a site visit to a local mosque. Four visiting scholars (a scholar of contemporary Islam in the Americas with a specialization in Black American Muslim practices; a publicly-engaged scholar of Muslim American, African American, and Arab American history and life; an ethnographic ethicist who produces public-facing scholarship on how and why Muslims wear pious dress; and a journalist who has written about successes and failures in K-12 school programs on Islam) will shed light on histories and recommend best practices that teachers can draw upon as they imagine and design curriculum related to Muslim-American experiences. A wealth of guest scholars will also be part of the Institute as local or virtual visitors to facilitate knowledge development.

Our Institute will offer a range of tools that teachers can incorporate into their work. Their projects will include the development of regional knowledge about and networks with Muslim American communities served by their schools/districts. Such regional knowledge will enable teachers to develop curriculum that can make use of, and speak to, the particular contexts of their community and their students’ lives. Participants will collaborate to build curricula which counter misinformation. Working groups will be organized to promote critical thinking about key aspects of the dominant narrative of Muslims in America (e.g., presumed patriarchy, lack of diversity, political disloyalty, etc.). Beyond the Institute, these working groups will continue to be a source of information, support, and further learning as teachers implement and adapt their curricula over time in their home classrooms.

High-quality curriculum projects will be a critical outcome of the institute. Participants will develop their project ideas through interaction and consultation with scholars, our Institute K-12 Leader, as well as a team of research librarians. They will fine tune their projects before sharing with the group for peer critique. Educators will have an additional month beyond the time of the Institute to work on projects as they process the experiences and reflect on emerging insights in the field.

Institute faculty co-directors

Professor Kathleen Knight Abowitz and Professor Liz Wilson

K-12 Leader

Melissa Insko

Visiting Scholars

Kayla Reneé Wheeler, Assistant Professor, Gender and Diversity Studies Program, Xavier University

Edward E. Curtis IV, Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, Purdue University-Indianapolis

Elizabeth (Liz) Bucar, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University

Linda K. Wertheimer, journalist and author ofFaith Ed: Teaching About Religion In An Age of Intolerance.

Other Institute Faculty

Loukia Sarroub, Professor of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Brenda Dales, Professor Emeritus of Children’s Literature, Miami University 

Asma Mobin-Uddin, author

Scott Henderson, Professor of Education, Furman University

Jason Palmieri, Professor of English, Miami University

Syed Hassan Raza, Pakistani K-12 educator and PhD student, Miami University