Center for Global Islamic Studies (CGIS)

Center for Global Islamic Studies (CGIS)

Center for Global Islamic Studies (CGIS)

Center for Global Islamic Studies (CGIS)

Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

The Center for Global Islamic Studies (CGIS) at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. Launched in the Fall of 2009 with the support of a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Center is a growing intellectual community committed to the comparative study of Islamic civilization. CGIS promotes interdisciplinary teaching and research designed to take Islamic Studies into and beyond the classroom by offering students, faculty and the broader community a variety of forums for dialogue, debate and experiential learning. At its core, the Center’s is distinguished by three distinct signatures:

1. an integrated undergraduate academic program that provides Lehigh students with multiple outlets to encounter the diversity and dynamism of global Islam

2. a comparative, interdisciplinary approach to Islamic studies that goes beyond narrow geographic areas and political issues to explore the broader landscape of Islamic civilization, both past and present

3. the translation of theory into practice, linking rigorous scholarship on the Muslim world to direct, practical, hands-on learning beyond the boundaries of the Lehigh campus

The opening of CGIS in the Fall of 2009 was the culmination of years of planning among Lehigh’s faculty and senior leadership, in conversation with the local Muslim community, students, and numerous colleagues at other national and international institutions. While Islamic studies programs exist on select college campuses across the United States, most are narrowly centered upon the Middle East—even though 85 percent of today’s 1.4 billion Muslims live outside the Middle East, most of them in Asia. Building on Lehigh’s existing culture and resources, the university has embraced an alternative, innovative approach. In order to spotlight Islam’s global, transnational and cross-cultural reach, CGIS aims to partner with a number of other interdisciplinary programs on campus. Cooperation with ongoing initiatives in Asian Studies, Africana Studies, American Studies, Jewish Studies, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Global Studies offers a wealth of expertise and resources that extends the Center’s activities across the campus and throughout the curriculum.

In today’s United States there is a pervasive climate of disinformation, ignorance and fear about Islam and Muslims. Through its academic programs, public outreach, teaching and research, the Center for Global Islamic Studies (CGIS) aims to help fill this glaring knowledge gap.

In the 21st century, knowledge about Islamic Civilization is an essential part of any liberal arts education. In its teaching, scholarship, and programming, CGIS is committed to the free and open exchange of ideas. As a scholarly community, CGIS rejects stereotyping and scapegoating, discrimination and demonizing, fear-mongering and religious discrimination. They denounce purity tests of any kind. CGIS stands against the divisive, destructive and dangerous forces of nativism, xenophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and immigrant bashing. And stands in solidarity with Lehigh students, staff and faculty of color, with immigrants, refugees, visiting scholars and international students, with those of all national, cultural and religious backgrounds.

Lehigh’s previous efforts to support Islamic studies have already produced significant results that illustrate the fertile ground upon which the Center can grow: a sustained interest in Arabic language instruction, strong enrollments for courses on Islam via the Religion Studies department, frequent requests for class visits in multiple departments and speaking engagements in various forums, a range of Islam-related campus events, off-campus lectures in the Lehigh Valley community, large turnouts for an annual Islam lecture series and “Middle East Week,” and an active and growing Muslim Student Association on campus.



Dr. Robert Rozehnal is a Professor in the Department of Religion Studies and the founding director of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh University. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Duke University, and an M.A. in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to the history and practice of Sufism in South Asia, his research interests include ritual studies, postcolonial theory, religious nationalism, globalization, and digital religion. He is the author of numerous articles and three books: Cyber Sufis: Virtual Expressions of the American Muslim Experience (Oneworld, 2019); Piety, Politics and Everyday Ethics in Southeast Asian Islam: Beautiful Behavior, editor (Bloomsbury, 2019); and Islamic Sufism Unbound: Politics and Piety in Twenty-First Century Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He previously served as the national co-chair of the Islamic Mysticism program unit at the American Academy of Religion.



Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.