Community News (V13-I410

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Ali Asani named head of Islamic Studies program at Harvard

092409_Asani_015.jpgCAMBRIDGE,MA–Ali Asani, professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures and chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, has been named the director of Harvard’s the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies.

Established in 2005, the program aims to foster understanding between the Islamic world and the West through scholarship, teaching, and educational programming. As director, Asani will be responsible for coordinating the activities of the program, proposing outreach efforts to promote informed education about Islam and providing overall direction with the help of the program’s steering committee.

A world-renowned scholar on Islam and Muslim cultures, Asani has worked with students and educators from Texas to Pakistan and served on theAmerican Academy of Religion’s task force on religion in schools. He lectures extensively on various aspects of the Islamic tradition. At Harvard, in addition to seminars for graduate students, he offers several general education courses on Islam and Muslim societies designed to educate undergraduate students about the dynamic relationship between religion and the complex contexts in which it is embedded. In 2002, Asani was awarded the Harvard Foundation medal for his efforts to improve intercultural relations through a better understanding of Islam and Muslim cultures.

Ali Shakouri appointed director of Purdue Center

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN– A leading researcher advancing efforts in thermoelectric energy conversion at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been selected as the new Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University’s Discovery Park.Ali Shakouri, a professor of electrical engineering at UCSC, succeeds James Cooper, who has served as Birck’s interim director since March 2010 when former director Tim Sands was appointed provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue.

“Professor Shakouri is an internationally recognized leader in his areas of specialization in the research field of nanotechnology,” said Alan Rebar, executive director of Discovery Park and senior associate vice president for research at Purdue. “We are very pleased and excited to welcome him as the director of Birck, one of our cornerstones for interdisciplinary research here at Purdue.”

In addition to leading the Birck Nanotechnology Center, Shakouri will serve as professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“Birck Nanotechnology Center has propelled Purdue into the top tier of this exciting research field in just a few short years,” Shakouri said.

“The facility has been a major resource for recruiting some of the best and brightest faculty members and researchers to advance how nanotechnology can improve our lives. What an honor and a privilege to be joining an internationally renowned research university like Purdue and to lead one of the most advanced nanotechnology facilities on a university campus anywhere in the world.”

Shakouri has focused his research on nanoscale heat and current transport in semiconductor devices, high-resolution thermal imaging, micro refrigerators on a chip and waste-heat recovery. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the California Institute of Technology in 1995 and his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Telecom ParisTech in France in 1990.

He directs the Thermionic Energy Conversion Center, a multiuniversity collaboration including Purdue that is working to improve direct thermal to electric energy conversion technologies. This project is funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Sciences Office at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA.

A part of the Quantum Electronics Group at UCSC, Shakouri also is working with colleagues in engineering and social sciences on a new sustainability curriculum. He initiated an international summer school on renewable energy sources in practice. Shakouri received the Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering in 1999, a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2000 and the UCSC School of Engineering FIRST Professor Award in 2004.Project researchers are exploring the capacity of nanostructured materials to channel the random jostling of heat energy into the orderly flow of electricity. The research has applications in advancing technology for electric-powered ships and other electric vehicles.

Murfreesboro mosque breaks ground

MURFREESBORO,TN– After years of controversy, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro broke ground on a new $1.8 million mosque on Wednesday,Channel 5 reports.
It may only look like a few shovels full of dirt, but to the members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro it represents a new beginning.

“Murfreesboro is our town and I’m so happy we reached this point,” said supporter Safaa Fathy.

“We believe that if you love God you cannot hate anyone,” said Imam Osama Bahloul who has always known they would get here. “If you do what’s right you will achieve what you want,” he said.

13-41

UCLA to Close Islamic Studies?

November 2, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

By Adil James, MMNS

Farmington–October 28–UCLA may not be known for having old and distinguished programs or even library collections, yet its Islamic studies department has one of the largest single collections among all American academic libraries, second only to Princeton’s.

G.E. von Grunbaum, for whom UCLA’s Near Eastern Studies program was named, was a noted orientalist scholar who founded UCLA’s Islamic Studies program in 1957.

The Islamic Studies program at UCLA is one of several interdisciplinary subjects, including Jewish studies, Indian and Southeast Asian studies, Latin American studies, and Medieval studies. 

UCLA currently offers MA and PhD programs in Islamic Studies.  A related department is the von Grunbaum Center for Near Eastern Studies. 

The program garners approximately three million dollars per year in government grants, yet has a budgeted expense of only about $130,000 per year for a minimal staff and to pay the department head, and to pay to bring visiting scholar/lecturers to UCLA to teach.  Students benefit greatly from the government grants, as 15-20 students get full tuition plus living expenses.  UCLA in fact takes back most of this money in the form of tuition payments.

The program is very competitive, with about 50 applications per year to begin graduate studies, and only about 8 students admitted per year.

UCLA’s Islamic Studies program annually grants an award to a distinguished professor, and this award has been balanced between Western and Muslim scholars.

Three years ago UCLA made some effort to build their Islamic Studies program by attempting to recruit two new professors, however contract negotiations with the two targeted professors fell through, and the program failed to expand as planned.

Without the top scholars that UCLA had intended to get interest in the program appears to have flagged.  Other departments this year refused to send representatives to head the Islamic Studies dept.

Apparently UCLA has planned a consolidation which would not touch the other departments, but which would consolidate the von Grunbaum Near Eastern studies center with other departments. 

It seems unfortunate that a major university with a department that is distinguished as UCLA’s would consider actually closing such a department, especially since the need for it is growing, and other major universities are moving in the opposite direction, toward expanding such programs to fill the recognized and growing need.

11-45