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Maytum Convocation Lecturer to bridge information gap
Sunday, May 07, 2017

Maytum Convocation Lecturer to bridge information gap

Dr. Amer Ahmed

Dr. Amer Ahmed, an acclaimed scholar who studies Islamic culture and has earned praise for his ability to facilitate honest, authentic dialogue that replaces fear and stereotypes with facts and understanding, will deliver the Maytum Convocation Lecture, “Islam: Beyond the Myths, Breaking Down the Barriers,” on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 3 p.m., in King Concert Hall.

“Since 9-11, American questions and fears about Islam, its teachings and its followers, have grown,” said Jennifer Hildebrand, Convocation Committee chair. “As the United States ponders how best to keep our citizens safe, the Convocation Committee believes that education must play a central role. If we have concerns about the teachings of Islam, an important step is to learn more about it.”

The goal of Dr. Ahmed’s talk, framed within the 2017-2018 Convocation theme “Transformations,” is to increase knowledge of Islam and provide needed context to bridge divides, Dr. Hildebrand explained. “As we continue to discuss and debate American policies, a fuller understanding of Muslim beliefs will help us to make informed decisions.”

Tickets are required for the event, which is free and open to the public, and can be obtained at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center.

Ahmed, also a Williams Visiting Professor, will participate in the campus’ Professional Development Day sessions with faculty and students.

Islam’s ascent to the forefront of the American consciousness was accompanied by fear and lack of understanding of one of the world’s major religions, leading to confusion and conflict, Hildebrand explained. She points to a violent, hate-motivated attack on a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wis., to demonstrate that such misunderstandings create tragic problems not just for Muslim-Americans, but many others as well.

Ahmed is Director of Intercultural Teaching and Faculty Development at University of Massachusetts–Amherst, the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system, with early 24,000 undergraduates and over 6,500 graduate students.

A Springfield, Ohio, native born to Indian Muslim immigrants, Ahmed has an eclectic personal and professional background. He has dedicated his life to engaging and facilitating diversity across human difference. He has a doctoral degree in Education from the University of South Dakota and has served as an intercultural diversity consultant, college administrator, facilitator, poet and hip hop activist. He has an M.A. and B.A., in Anthropology and Black Studies.

Ahmed is a nationally known speaker who addresses his diverse areas of expertise at colleges, conferences and institutes. He has appeared on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” show and in “Cracking the Codes,” a documentary film on racism.

According to a Pew Research Center estimate, Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world, with 1.6 billion followers in 2010. Growth and regional migration of Muslims, along with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that represent a tiny minority of Muslims and commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have placed Muslims and the Islamic faith at the forefront of political debate in the United States and other countries.

“Learning more about Islam should allow us to seek out connections and partnerships worldwide with those Muslims who also condemn terrorist acts, and it helps us to develop effective and creative solutions that protect the American people. A policy built on myths and falsehoods is unlikely to succeed,” Hildebrand said.

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