During the spring 2008 semester, a course called "Introduction to Islam" will be offered on the Fort Hays State University campus. This class is coordinated under the Philosophy Department in conjunction with the Political Science and History Departments. It will be taught by the Fulbright Visiting Specialists Program scholar, who will be at FHSU for six weeks. That final candidate should be known in a month.
The idea for the course came from Dean Paul Faber, College of Arts and Sciences, who said the intent is to educate students and the community about Islam, a major geopolitical force in the world today, by bringing in a "native" expert who possesses both research expertise and cultural insight on Islamic thought.
The Fulbright Visiting Specialists Program: Direct Access to the Muslim program is managed by the United State Department of State. The department awards scholars from around the world with a grant and chance to conduct research in another country.
For a university to be accepted by the Fulbright program as a host school, the institution must show financial support, administration approval and partner institutions -- community colleges and high schools that are willing to host lectures or gatherings. Hays High School, the Hays Public Library and Colby Community College have scheduled
events for FHSU's Islamic scholar.
FHSU is in the process of ranking possible candidates and working with the program staff, but the ultimate decision is with the Department of State, said Faber. The scholar will help create the new course as well as teach the class. He or she will also interact with student groups on campus and converse with regional and community leaders.
"This course should eventually become a regular offering on campus and perhaps through distance education," said Dr. Eugene Rice, chair of the Department of Philosophy. "In a liberal society like ours, it is especially important that we understand a tradition that we interact with, both here at home and in the international arena."