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Shenandoah aims for global dialogue at Barzinji Fall Colloquium

shenandoah universityFaculty and staff from Shenandoah University and Bridgewater College will host higher education representatives from two Muslim-majority countries to discuss civil discourse, diversity, race and ethnicity in higher education, as well as health care in diverse societies.

The first-ever Barzinji Fall Colloquium will be held Sept. 16-18 on the Winchester campus of Shenandoah.

The Barzinji Project is an initiative funded by the friends and family of Jamal Barzinji, who was a Muslim scholar with a passion for higher education. The Barzinji Project focuses on best practices in higher education.

“It is important for us to think of innovation in higher education in global terms,” said Younus Mirza, Ph.D., director of the Barzinji Project and scholar in residence at Shenandoah. “We have a lot to learn from each other in terms of best practices and new initiatives. In particular, there are specific challenges and misunderstandings between cultures, which the colloquium seeks to mitigate through mutual understanding and learning.”

In February 2019, school officials and students from the International Islamic University in Malaysia (IIUM) and the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia visited Shenandoah University and Bridgewater College to discuss civil discourse. In March, 12 Shenandoah University and Bridgewater College delegates, including staff, faculty and students, visited Malaysia and Bosnia to learn how higher education institutions in those countries operate and how they provide space for civil discourse.

This September, the same delegates who participated in the spring Barzinji Project will return to campus to discuss the outcomes they have witnessed since their spring visits. Participants will discuss civil discourse; diversity, race and ethnicity in higher education; and health care in diverse societies. They will also share ideas and experiences from their respective countries and discuss ways to foster civil discourse and improve the higher education experience.

“This program honors the memory of Jamal Barzinji, a great intellectual, educator, and humanitarian,” said Provost Adrienne Bloss, Ph.D. “Dr. Barzinji promoted education as the foundation for economic development and social justice around the world. Through this project, colleges and universities in the United States and in Muslim-majority countries are working collaboratively to develop best practices around higher education and strengthen cross-cultural communication. We believe that this ongoing, focused engagement across cultures will yield positive outcomes for the individuals, the institutions, and even the broader societies involved.”

On Sept. 18, there is a special program with the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business, including the presentation “Global Practices of Islamic Finance: The Prospects and Challenges,” and the presentation “What is Needed for a Successful and Sustainable Halal Industry?”

The three-day event is open and free to the public with registration.