Visiting professor to speak on Islam as ecumenical movement Monday, Feb. 18

A renowned professor of Near Eastern History will present on “Nascent Islam as an Ecumenical Movement” from 2:15-3:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18 in the Christie Theatre of UW-Green Bay’s University Union.

University of Chicago Prof. Fred Donner’s presentation will examine whether Islam was originally founded just for Muslims, or rather as a religion intended to embrace Jews, Christians and Muslims. Donner has extensively studied the origins of Islam, tribal and nomadic society and early Islamic history, among other areas. He is the author of several books, including “Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origin of Islam” (Harvard University Press, 2008).

Donner’s address is part of UW-Green Bay’s long-running Historical Perspectives Lecture Series, the foremost activity of the Center for History and Social Change at UW-Green Bay. First organized in 1985, the annual series of talks by a wide variety of historians and social scientists is made possible thanks to funds from a variety of University donors.

The Center for History and Social Change promotes historical thought, study and discourse at UW-Green Bay and in the larger community through lectures, seminars and other campus events. It is associated most directly with the University’s program in Democracy and Justice Studies, and pursues its activities in relation to that program’s goals. It also works closely with other academic programs to reinforce and support UW-Green Bay’s interdisciplinary mission.

Donner’s talk is free and open to the public. Additional biographical information is online at More information about the Historical Perspectives Lecture Series is available at


To learn and to celebrate: International Education ‘Week’ lasts all month at UW-Green Bay

UW-Green Bay’s celebration of International Education Week has been extended to span the entire month of November, and a variety of displays, discussions and other events are planned.

The U.S. departments of State and Education officially will recognize Nov. 12-16 as International Education Week 2012, calling the timeframe as “an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.” At UW-Green Bay, the celebration started early, beginning Nov. 1. Events for the month are as follows:

Bittersweet Winds Display

The Bittersweet Winds exhibit continues to grow and expand with both positive and negative images of Native Americans. This display explores such issues as Native American mascots in sports and how they affect people’s perceptions. The display is sponsored by UW-Green Bay’s Intertribal Student Organization.

—   9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, Phoenix Room B, University Union

—   9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, Phoenix Room B

—   9 a.m.-12 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, Phoenix Room B

Study Abroad first steps meetings

These meetings offer the chance for students to learn the basics about study abroad, including destinations, financial aid, scholarships and more. The meetings are sponsored by the Office of International Education (OIE).

—   2 p.m. Tuesdays, Nov. 6, 13, 20 and 27, OIE, Cofrin Library 207

—   12:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Nov. 7, 14 and 28, OIE

World Café event, “Women Change the World”

Women from around the world will facilitate this discussion, hosted by Student Life. Space is limited, and attendees must RSVP at

—   Noon-2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, Phoenix Room B

Yoga Rave

Students, faculty and staff are welcome to experience this “party like none other in this world,” described as “a new concept in fun” in which the body responds to the stimuli of music, yoga and meditation. No experience necessary and beginners are welcome. Mats will be provided and no sign-up is required. Event is sponsored by the Kress Events Center.

—   6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, Kress Events Center Special Events Room

International Dinner for a Cause

Sponsored by the International Club, Office of International Education and the Mauthe Center, this dinner prepared by UW-Green Bay international students will offer flavors and tastes from around the world. The event is free but donations will be accepted. All proceeds go toward building a well in Africa.

—   5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13

Islam Awareness Month events

Islam is a widely practiced religion throughout the world, yet it is often perceived negatively by non-Muslims. This series of events is designed to educate people on the religion and encourage open dialogue across cultures. The event is sponsored by the Muslim Students’ Association (contact person Heba Mohammad,

—   Eid With Us: 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, Islamic Center of Green Bay

—   Behind My Veil: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, Mauthe Center

—   Mosque Open Day: 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, Islamic Center of Green Bay

—   Muslim Images in the American Media: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, Mauthe Center



Coury talks Arab Spring, Gadhafi death

UW-Green Bay Prof. David Coury weighed in on what’s next for Libya following the death of Moammar Gadhafi for a story in Friday’s (Oct. 21) Green Bay Press-Gazette. Coury, co-director of the Center for Middle East Studies, said the next several months will be critical for developing democracy in Libya, and that the U.S. should avoid involvement in nation-building efforts in that country. Read the full article.


Saturday’s conference on ‘Best Practices for Teaching Middle Eastern Content’

The Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships hosts its conference organized for K-12 teachers and university educators on campus this Saturday (April 2). For details on “Globalizing the Classroom: Developing Best Practices for Teaching Middle Eastern Content,” see our archived post.

April 2 conference will target best practices in teaching Middle East topics

As part of the follow-up program for the Fulbright-Hayes Group Project Abroad Grant, the Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships extends an open invitation to a conference organized for K-12 teachers and university educators. Titled “Globalizing the Classroom: Developing Best Practices for Teaching Middle Eastern Content,” the conference will be held at UW-Green Bay on Saturday, April 2.

Morning sessions include three lectures by specialists in Middle East History:
Prof. Kate Lang of UW-Eau Claire, Women and Islam;
Prof. Edgar Francis, of UW-Stevens Point, The Geography of the Middle East; and
Prof. Robert Kramer of St. Norbert College, Islam and the West.

Afternoon sessions include presentations by UW-Green Bay faculty members on culture (David Coury), children (Jill White), the Vikings and the Islamic World (Heidi Sherman), and lesson plans developed by pre-service and K-12 teachers on children’s literature and history.  Jay Harris and participants in the Young Entrepreneurs Program from Israel and Jordan will also present in the afternoon.

The conference is supported by an OPID grant, the Center for Middle East Partnerships, and Humanistic Studies. All are welcome, but please contact Heidi Sherman ( or 920-465-5146) to register as a lunch will be provided.

‘New Feminist Voices in Islam’ is Jordanian scholar’s topic Oct. 18

A presentation by a Jordanian-born scholar on ‘New Feminist Voices in Islam’ will be the first public lecture offered through the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s new Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships.

Ibtesam Al Atiyat, a former visiting scholar at UW-Green Bay and now an assistant professor of sociology at St. Olaf College, will speak at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18. Her talk, free and open to the public, will take place in the 1965 Room of the University Union on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive. A reception will follow.

Lecture by Prof. Ibtesam Al Atiyat, Oct. 18Al Atiyat’s lecture will tackle Islamic-feminist approaches to the liberation of women, and summarize the arguments debated within this newly emerging approach. She will discuss new Islamic feminist readings as well as selected chapters of the Quran, events in Muslim history, and cultural practices often associated with Islam. The presentation will also consider how the approach to women’s rights issues, even when goals are similar, can vary depending on the perspective, whether Islamic-feminist or traditional western feminism.

Al Atiyat received her Ph.D. from the Freie University, Berlin. She is a former program officer for the Jordanian National Commission for Women, and taught previously at the University of Jordan and the German-Jordanian University. During the 2005-2006 academic year she was a Fulbright Scholar-in-residence at UW-Green Bay.

Campus co-sponsors of her visit include the Center for History and Social Change. The primary sponsor, the Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships, was founded in 2010 to bring together existing academic programs as well as overseas activities, all to provide an academic focus upon one of the world’s most compelling regions. The Center assists and helps promote Arabic language courses, and serves as a resource for the infusion of greater Middle Eastern content into pre-existing courses. In conjunction with the Office of International Education, it helps build and maintain ties to academic institutions in the Middle East, particularly the University of Jordan, and fosters exchanges, trips and partnerships bringing the Green Bay community greater ties to the region.


Middle East travelers report busy first week

Prof. David Coury, Humanistic Studies, shipped home an email Monday (July 12) from the nation of Jordan, where he’s helping lead a Wisconsin delegation that is spending a month abroad on a Fulbright-Hays grant. Continue reading “Middle East travelers report busy first week”

Video: Learning Arabic at UW-Green Bay

Lately, the conversation inside the Common Grounds coffeehouse is a little foreign to most people on the UW-Green Bay campus. Twice a week, for about an hour, this group of students, staff and faculty get together for an Arabic conversation group.

“I wanted to take Arabic because I wanted to feel what it was like to learn to read,” said Sherry Lacenski, assistant director of the Phoenix Bookstore. “I couldn’t do that in a language that used the Latin alphabet.”

Lacenski is what you may call the lead instructor of this informal group. She fell in love with the language three years ago.

“When you start learning Arabic, it is like nonsense syllables,” Lacenski said.

Her counterpart is student Jeremy Wildenberg.

“With Arabic, everything is completely foreign,” Wildenberg said. “It’s like learning language from birth again. It’s definitely a challenge.”

Wildenberg spent 14 years as an Arabic and Russian linguist in the Army. This fall he will help teach an Arabic language course on campus. In July, Wildenberg will be part of a group traveling to Jordan for a month.

“Any time you travel to a foreign country, you want to be up to speed on their customs and courtesies and it shows a great deal of respect that you at least made an attempt to learn the language,” he said.

Humanistic Studies professor Heidi Sherman and Social Work professor Jolanda Sallmann are learning a little Arabic before going on the trip. They say they’re hoping to share what they learn with students down the road.

“Just the opportunity to go there, learn about a different culture, learn part of the language and work to develop those collaborative relationships is something I was really interested in doing,” Sallmann said,

“I teach a course on medieval Islamic civilization and I hope to kind of bring what I gain from the experience to that class,” Sherman added.

One of Sherman’s students is also going on the trip to Jordan.

“People ask me why did I want to study Arabic. They’re like, why would you want to study that? Why not? It’s a chance to learn something that’s different,” said student Cory Miller.

The trip to Jordan is in preparation for the new Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships.

“The new center is a unique thing for Green Bay, especially with the focus on the Middle East,” said Jay Harris, international projects coordinator for UW-Green Bay.

“Having people like this in Jordan for a month, meeting counterparts, will help us develop opportunities and possibilities that couldn’t be imagined a year ago,” Harris said.

Those involved say it will go a long way towards making the campus and the community a better place.

“The demographics of Northeastern Wisconsin are changing. I think every place you go you can see the influence of different cultures,” Sallmann said. “I think just to make Northeast Wisconsin as inclusive and respectful of diversity as possible. And I think the Center is a great first step in that direction in terms of welcomeness.”

Today’s feature: Student, a military vet, teaches Arabic to teachers

UW-Green Bay’s new Center for Middle East Studies and Partnerships, announced this week, is getting a boost from Jeremy Wildenberg, a first-year student who serves as a reminder that non-traditional students often bring a knowledge that adds to the academic experience. In his case, he’s teaching Arabic to UW-Green Bay educators. Wildenberg, age 35, a Little Chute native, spent 14 years in the U.S. Army as a linguistics expert. Among his students nowadays are members of the UW-Green Bay faculty and staff involved with the establishment of the new Center. Neat story.