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Islamic Studies Enrollment Doubles At CU-Boulder

first_imgEnrollment in a University of Colorado at Boulder Islamic studies course has doubled, and the religion expert who teaches the class is preparing for even larger classes in future semesters. The combined upper-division and graduate course “Islam in the Modern World” has 31 students enrolled for the spring 2002 semester – twice as many as normal, according to Professor Fred Denny, chair of the CU-Boulder religious studies department and instructor of the class. “I expanded the enrollment cap from 19 and reserved a larger room in order to accommodate the extra interest,” Denny said. The demanding academic requirements of the course may have discouraged even more interested students from registering, he said. After this semester, Denny will not teach another Islam course until spring 2003, when the basic undergraduate version of the class is offered. He said that 38 students – an average number – enrolled in his last undergraduate Islam class in fall 2000. “I think it’s possible that the next undergraduate course may have a lot more students, and I’m going to be prepared for it,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then.” Abbas Barzegar, a religious studies master’s candidate who is taking Denny’s course, said that students’ heightened curiosity about Islam is only natural. “However, I also think that this is not a new phenomenon,” Barzegar said. “Islam and the Middle East have been at the top of America’s consciousness for quite some time.” Denny said that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the public and the media reacted with a higher level of sophistication than in the past. “I think that in America, there has been a great deal of attention to the diversity of the Muslim world – the fact that many are being hurt by small extremist groups,” he said. Since the attacks, major newspapers across the country have sought Denny’s insights. He said he tries to respond to media interviews in positive and constructive ways. “A large proportion of negative stories can have a negative effect. That’s the aim of the extremist groups – because ‘fire’ gets noticed,” he said. Denny has studied Islam since the 1960s, and has done fieldwork in Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia. More recently he’s focused on Muslims in the United States and Canada, and he’s currently on the board of directors for the American Academy of Religion. Barzegar, whose father is Iranian and mother Chicana, has been actively involved in the CU Muslim Student Association. He’s focusing his graduate study on Muslims in America. For more information visit the CU-Boulder department of religious studies at http://www.colorado.edu/ReligiousStudies/ . Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Published: Feb. 24, 2002 last_img read more