Non-Muslims are rarely provided the opportunity to engage and understand the experiences of Muslims in the United States and around the world. This perceptual and practiced disconnect and overall misunderstanding of the religion too often ends up in harmful stereotypes and as blanket condemnation of Muslims and Islam. This is what gives rise to the Social Science Research Council’s (SSRC) Academia in the Public Sphere: Islam and Muslims in World Contexts Program. Indiana University, led by the Center for the Study of Global Change in collaboration with other National Resource Centers and partners at IU and in the Bloomington community, had their proposal accepted during the first round and again, nearly a year later, for a second time.
Our voices range from scholars with decades of research and academic experience to everyone else who has their own lived experiences, attitudes, and convictions. No one is excluded from the wide-ranging and frank discussions. The Voices and Visions project, always cognizant that it is as scholarly as it is an initiative of public media, is diligently working to challenge the misguided stereotypes, the misinformation, and the harmful perceptions that still too often create barriers between Muslims and non-Muslims. Through engaging voices, expertise, and reflections of all our lives, it is chipping away at some of these walls and replacing them with dialogue, a diversity of viewpoints, and understanding.
In our second round, the project has added new partners, WTIU and Indiana University Press, to its existing ones, WFIU, the Bloomington Area Arts Council, the Islamic Center of Bloomington, Monroe County Public Library, the Harran Foundation, and others. The project promotes a public conversation that challenges stereotypes, reveals the similarities between the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims, provides education and resources about the diversity of Islam, and builds bridges of understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as between scholars and the public.
The Voices and Visions Project