UW to Launch Interactive Radio Show and Web Site on Islam and Muslims in the World

CONTACT: B. Venkat Mani, bvmani@global.wisc.edu, 608-265-2631

UW–Madison’s nine area and international studies programs, in partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio, and the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) have received a generous grant from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) for an interactive program that will support public dissemination of scholarship on the topic of Islam. The grant is part of SSRC’s project, “Academia in the Public Sphere.”

UW–Madison’s eight Title VI National Resource Centers (Global Studies; African Studies Program; Center for South Asia; Center for South East Asian Studies; Center for European Studies; Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia; Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies; and Center for East Asian Studies) and its Middle Eastern Studies Program will host a 12 month project titled “Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates.”

Spearheaded by Global Studies, the grant will allow for the production of 8–10 one-hour, call-in radio shows with local and international scholars on Islam, hosted by WPR’s Jean Feraca. Topics may include such subjects as “Islam and Music” and “Women and Islam,” and will address the diversity of Muslim communities throughout the world. These broadcasts will be followed by real-time chats and a blog on the WPR Web site. In addition, they will produce “insideislam.wisc.edu,” a Web site hosted by DoIT.

The live radio broadcasts will reach WPR’s 400,000 listeners around the state through Feraca’s “Here on Earth: Radio without Borders” program. Intended to spark a worldwide conversation, listeners around the globe will be able to stream the radio show and post their own comments and podcasts on the Web site.

“This forum is designed precisely for public access to knowledge and dialogue,” says B. Venkat Mani, interim director of Global Studies and associate professor in the Department of German. “This is not merely outreach to the community. It is a way of building inroads into the university.” Mani is most recently the author of Cosmopolitical Claims: Turkish German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk (University of Iowa Press, 2007).

“Wisconsin is a natural home for such a collaborative, interregional effort,” says Gilles Bousquet, Dean of the Division of International Studies. “In addition to their strong history of research and teaching, UW–Madison’s area and international studies programs consistently generate innovative ways of helping us to better understand our world.”

Ten universities received SSRC funding to support projects intended to influence public discourse on Islam with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.