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March 18, 2014, Berkeley, CA – The Center for Islamic Studies (CIS) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Mohamad Som Pourfarzaneh as its Associate Director of Public Programs and Lecturer in Islamic Studies. Dr. Pourfarzaneh will be working with Director Dr. Munir Jiwa to develop and direct the Center’s public and academic programs in Islamic Studies, as well as offering classes on Islam in the West, Islam and Media, and Islamophobia.
Dr. Pourfarzaneh is himself a graduate of the GTU’s Doctoral Program within the Islamic Studies track of the area of Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions. His dissertation was titled, “Muslim Cultural Producers in the United States: Countering Stereotypes with Media+, Social Networks, and Cultural Production.” He joins the CIS with a background in social media and online communities, having worked as a Community Management Specialist at Perfect World Entertainment, and has six years of previous nonprofit program experience, including four years as the CIS Program Coordinator during his doctoral studies.
The hiring of Dr. Pourfarzaneh is part of a recent three-year grant awarded to the Center for Islamic Studies from the New York-based Henry Luce Foundation. The purpose of this grant is to extend the Center’s outreach by recruiting and supporting students in Islamic Studies who are committed to career paths that encompass public roles and leadership positions that advance the positive impact of religion on society. The grant also provides funding to create programs focused on the use of media and communication technologies to engage diverse audiences.
The Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, established in 2007, offers a certificate, master’s degree, and doctoral track in Islamic Studies; serves as a center generating research and scholarship on Islamic texts and traditions in contemporary contexts; provides a meeting ground for diverse traditions within Islam; and produces educational and leadership resources for a wide range of faith communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
About the GTU
The Graduate Theological Union, located in Berkeley, CA, is a theological consortium offering education for academic and religious leadership within a unique ecumenical and interreligious context. Founded in 1962, the consortium is the largest and most diverse partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States, dedicated to building bridges within and across different religious traditions by educating students for teaching, research, ministry and service. The GTU works collaboratively with the University of California, Berkeley, and is the home of the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, one of the largest theological libraries in the country.