Alumni Update | Issue Nine 2014

International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding

Building understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim worlds “is one of the issues of our times that must be addressed if we are to embrace an ethical and harmonious future .”
Nelson Mandela, UniSA Honorary Doctor and former International Patron of the Hawke Centre.

The University of South Australia launched the International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding in 2008.
It aims to connect and shape critical investigations to understand and reconcile tensions produced by the emergence of a distinct Muslim political presence in the world.
International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding
In March 2014 the Centre produced a documentary film Young Muslims Behind the Headlines aimed at secondary school students. The twenty minute film uses the real life experiences of young Muslim Australians to tackle such questions as why do Muslim women wear the hijab, why do international politics impact on some Muslims, and how does Islamic culture contribute to Australian communities.

The documentary – which comes with a suite of learning aids - was developed as a starting point for discussion and learning about the role of culture in defining identity, the place of faith in some people’s lives, ideas about difference and acceptance, the impacts of social exclusion, and notions of stereotyping, prejudice and racism.

Finding new ideas and insights to shape policy
The primary purpose of the Centre is the production and development of new ideas and insights to provide an intellectual platform for its engagement with the general public. Its research focuses on building a knowledge base of issues shaping Muslim and non-Muslim relations in Australia and abroad, and informing policy responses at national, international and community level.

Some substantive research topics have included: critical analyses of the politics of post-9/11 security contexts and its effects on Muslim populations, Muslim youth and analysing 'violent extremism’.

Award for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding
In 2012 the Centre established the 'Award for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding' in conjunction with the Australia Day Council of SA to celebrate those who have done the most to improve understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia. Past individual winners are Hobart filmmaker Heather Kirkpatrick for her documentary feature film Mary meets Mohammad, and AFL player for Richmond Bachar Houli.

Engagement with youth
The Centre has collaborated with Uniting Care Wesley Port Adelaide to engage young people in citizenship and community leadership activities, including a 2012 citizenship forum for young Afghans, most of whom were recent immigrants or asylum seekers. Some of whom had experienced hardship during their journey here by boat or lived in detention centres for some time. The current project is an Active Youth Citizenship Forum for year 10-12 students from a variety of South Australian secondary schools and backgrounds to build community leadership skills.

For more information about the Centre visit http://unisa.edu.au/muslim-understanding

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