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Ahmed and Students Set Out Across America

By Sally Acharya

Professor Akbar Ahmed and five students are traveling across America on a yearlong voyage of discovery. It’s an effort to learn how Muslims fit into contemporary American society, and how the uniquely American ideals of pluralism, openness, and cultural integration hold up in post-9/11 America.

They’ll be in more than 30 towns and cities between September 2008 and September 2009. Of course, they won’t just live on the road. The team will alternate multiweek jaunts with time at AU.

Three members of the five-student team are veterans of Ahmed’s previous project, in which he led a student team into the heart of the Muslim world while writing Journey Into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization.

The team is ranging across the United States, from New York City to Los Angeles; from Cedar Rapids, Ia., to Las Vegas, Nev.; from Birmingham, Ala., to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Ahmed, the former high commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, has written more than 30 books and has been dubbed by the BBC “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam.” He is regularly interviewed on CNN, CBC, and the BBC and has appeared several times on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Nightline. He holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the School of International Service.

They’ve already begun the journey, which is being chronicled in the group’s blog,