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March 15, 2010

Syllabus on Contemporary Islam Recognized at National Level

The National Collegiate Honors Council Shares Work of Two St. Francis Professors

The Honors Program at St. Francis College has experienced remarkable growth in size and stature over the past few years under the direction Dr. Jaskiran Mathur Associate Professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice. Now, The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) has recognized the work of Dr. Mathur and St. Francis College Economics Professor Dr. Behrouz Tabrizi for the creation of their Honors Seminar, ‘Contemporary Islam: Its Socio-Economic Context’. (Read the syllabus)

“Dr. Tabrizi and I decided to approach the subject of Islam through our respective disciplines, in order to bring to our students, an examination of a contemporary phenomenon wherein Islam has become increasingly conspicuous while remaining ambiguous and incomprehensible,” said Professor Mathur. “The dawn of the 21st century has found us uncertain witnesses to a faceoff between ‘civilizations’, poised in an ‘us’ and ‘them’ polarization. Our objective is to create a forum where our students can pose queries learn to distinguish myth from reality, politics from academia, and news from propaganda.”

The syllabus was selected by the Publication Board of NCHC as a model syllabus to be posted on the organization’s website and will now be available to Honors Programs across the country.

Among the key points in the course, which was first offered a few years ago, are to teach students: to comprehend the significance and inevitability of Social Change and to decipher the relationship between Islam and Social Movements; to learn basic economic concepts as defined by Islamic economists in contrast to neo-classical economists and to discern the social forces at work that nuance the interpretations of Islam in different cultures.

The success of the Honors Program at St. Francis College is reflected in the enthusiasm of its 55 strong and largest ever freshman class of Honors Students for the 2009-2010 academic year. In October 2009, a group of Honors professors and students travelled to Washington, D.C. to attend the 44th Annual Conference of the NCHC. The students presented a paper on Redefining Honors Programs for Small Colleges; focusing on how St. Francis is utilizing its location and small, mostly commuter based population to foster and facilitate the inimitable honors experience. Four Honors Student proposals have been accepted for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Northeast Region Honors Council to be held in Harrisburg PA in April 2010. The election of Dr. Mathur to the Board of the National Collegiate Honors Council to serve a three year term as professional Member, starting January 2010, is a yet another honor and recognition for this ‘Small College of Big Dreams’.

The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) is the professional association of undergraduate Honors programs and colleges; Honors directors and deans; and Honors faculty, staff, and students. NCHC provides support for institutions and individuals developing, implementing, and expanding Honors education through curriculum development, program assessment, teaching innovation, national and international study opportunities, internships, service and leadership development, and mentored research.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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