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March 18, 2004

Pitt Professor First Director of Islamic Studies Consortium

The recently formed Consortium for Educational Resources on Islamic Studies (CERIS), a sponsor of the March 5 foreign-policy lecture by American diplomat Richard A. Boucher, is a collaboration of academic, non-profit and religious organizations in the tri-state area dedicated to the sharing of Islamic studies resources.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh invited higher education institutions in southwest Pennsylvania to pool their resources to create a critical mass of expertise on Islamic studies.

CERIS aims to foster understanding about Islamic studies, which encompasses many languages, literatures and disciplines, and extends from the 7th century to the present and across broad geographical areas of the world.

According to CERIS’s inaugural director, Robert W. Matson, history professor at Pitt’s Johnstown campus, the first step was compiling available resources, particularly in university library systems, and linking them to a central web site while weeding out duplicate resources.

The consortium now maintains an on-line, searchable database of educational resources, including events, books, films, articles, courses and expertise related to Islamic studies, Matson said.

(The CERIS web site is:; click on the resources link.)

A long-term goal is to develop a certificate program in Islamic studies where students from participating schools could complete course work at various institutions within the consortium. The certificate would combine language acquisition, area studies expertise, and area and global studies research and methodological competencies, modeled after the area studies and global studies certificate programs offered by the University Center for International Studies at Pitt.

In addition to Pitt’s Oakland, Greensburg and Johnstown campuses, other colleges and universities in CERIS include Carlow, Chatham, Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne, Geneva, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, La Roche, Point Park, Robert Morris, Saint Francis, Saint Vincent, Seton Hill and Youngstown State. Other member institutions include the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Council of Higher Education and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

—Peter Hart

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