Campus: San Francisco State University -- June 28, 2002
S.F. State To Strengthen Its Faculty In Islamic Studies
San Francisco State University this fall will take the first steps to
quickly and dramatically expand its faculty resources devoted to the
interdisciplinary and wide-ranging subject of Islamic Studies, an area
of growing interest at universities across the country.
If the initiative succeeds --- and gains faculty support --- San Francisco
State University will examine the possibility of creating one of the
country's first Islamic Studies Program that will be shaped by the new
Islamic Studies specialists arriving on the campus this year and next.
"We know that there is much interest from our students and the
academic community in Islamic Studies," said Joel J. Kassiola,
dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at S.F. State
and one of the chief architects of the initiative. "The problem
has been that these classes have been offered only occasionally and
without any connectiveness. Here at San Francisco State University,
we are going to change that."
The idea was first presented to the faculty earlier this year by S.F.
State President Robert A. Corrigan, who believed that San Francisco
State University urgently needed to take the lead in seeking outstanding
scholars for the emerging academic area of Islamic Studies, said Kassiola.
Beginning in the fall, the first scholars will arrive on campus. One
is a historian who created S.F. State's course on Islamic history. And
the second is a scholar in Islamic culture who will be joining the Department
of Humanities. In the meantime, the University will begin four international
searches for scholars in academic areas that faculty at S.F. State have
painstakingly identified over the last several months.
The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences will conduct three of
the four searches. The first is in comparative politics of the Middle
East and falls under the Department of International Relations. The
candidate will teach the politics of Muslim states in the Middle East
as well as on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The faculty
member's expertise will cover secular states such as Egypt and Turkey,
Islamic republics such as Iran and Sudan, and monarchies in the Gulf
States and Jordan.
The second search, which falls under the Department of Political Science,
will center on a scholar who will teach international and transnational
relations of Muslim states and communities. The faculty member will
have expertise in social movements both religious and nationalist. The
candidate also will teach on other ideologies in relation to development,
modernization and globalization.
And the third position, a joint appointment in psychology and anthropology,
will focus on cross-cultural psychology. The candidate will teach about
children and families in relationship to war, ethnicity and peace, and
peace promotion through education. The faculty member also will specialize
in areas such as war trauma, ethnic identify development under conditions
of war, conflict resolution and the impact of language structure in
The College of Humanities will begin the fourth search in the cluster
for a scholar in Islamic religion for the Department of Philosophy.
Kassiola said that he doesn't think the University will have difficulty
filling its faculty searches. "Student interest in Islamic Studies
is very strong on our campus, which I think would make these positions
very, very desirable," Kassiola said.
Kassiola said although early thinking on the plan began before Sept.
11, the attacks have added the element of immediacy. "The attacks
and their aftermath drove home the need for an interdisciplinary focus,"
Kassiola explained. "The psychology of terrorist motivation, the
politics of global identities, and the economics of oil and illiteracy
play off each other in ways that defy the theoretical edifice of each
individual department in BSS and our university. Our only hope is to
enable students to view the complex from different disciplinary angles."
The faculty appointments may be only the first steps in developing even
more scholarship on the Middle East at S.F. State. Once the scholars
arrive they will work with other faculty to possibly create a Segment
III (Relationships of Knowledge) cluster of courses on Islamic Studies,
similar to the nine-unit Jewish Experience cluster now offered at S.F.
State. Further down the road, the University wants to look at the possibility
of developing a minor in Islamic Studies. The university already offers
a minor in Jewish Studies.
Contact: Ligeia Polidora (415) 338-3053 or cell (415) 710-0425