The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Carnegie Grant is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Department of Education Title VI program dedicated to international education and public education. The Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were awarded funds for a grant entitled “Illinois Outreach Network on Islam in the World.” The goal of the initiative is to support activities which succeed in disseminating the insights of academic research to the general public, and to facilitate communications between scholars and a variety of constituents. Through the initiative, we have formed a state-wide and inter-disciplinary network of over 60 scholars, the Illinois Network on Islam and Muslim Societies (I-NIMS). These scholars research and teach about the Middle East, the broader Islamic world, and Muslim communities around the globe. These scholars are also committed to organizing and hosting educational events in conjunction with community organizations to provide lectures on Islam and Muslim societies to the public community.
The Illinois Network on Islam and Muslim Societies was established to support activities which disseminate the insights of academic research to the general public and to facilitate communications between scholars and community organizations, media outlets, and local businesses. I-NIMS is comprised of scholars from many Illinois universities and colleges, all of whom have a research or teaching focus on Islam, the Middle East, the broader Islamic world, or Muslim societies around the globe. I-NIMS members are committed to organizing, hosting, and supporting educational events in conjunction with community organizations to provide lectures on Islam and Muslim societies to the public.
I-NIMS’ three components — the Speakers Bureau, lecture series, and film series — are all aimed at facilitating discussion and awareness of the diversity among and within Muslim societies. The Speakers Bureau is accessible to those outside of academe who wish to invite speakers to address various groups. Along with the Speakers Bureau, many I-NIMS members have identified themselves as potential point-of-information contacts for local media, hoping to bring expertise on Islam and the Muslim world to media outlets for related news research and reporting. The lectures series is comprised of lectures organized or supported by I-NIMS members which bring renowned scholars to communities across the state. The film series, comprised of relevant film screenings organized or supported by I-NIMS members, brings films and local experts or renowned film directors to facilitate informed discussion in Illinois communities. The Speakers Bureau, lecture series, and film series all work together to achieve the I-NIMS mission of disseminating the insights of academic research to Illinois communities and media, achieving a higher level of awareness and understanding of Islam and the richness and diversity among and within Muslim communities to the general public.