Although situated in the heart of Central Pennsylvania, Penn State Altoona students and members of the local community will have the unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the politics, history, and culture of today’s Muslim world.

Dr. Taslima Monsoor, a professor of law at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, arrived on campus this week and will spend six weeks at Penn State Altoona as part of the Fulbright Visiting Specialists Program, a venture to promote understanding of the Muslim world and civilization through intensive lectures, public outreach, and consultation.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about the challenges and limitations facing women in Islamic societies through a one-credit course taught by Monsoor, which will cover such topics as marriage under Islamic family law, women’s property rights, economic empowerment or deprivation of women, and issues of dower and dowry that affect the empowerment of Muslim women.

Monsoor will also share her insights as a guest lecturer in other classes, including political science, human development and family studies, communication arts and sciences, and sociology.

Students and members of the community may also ask her questions through an online site located at, at which questions may be asked and the answers posted by Monsoor.

She will also engage many sectors of the community through public forums, presentations, inter-faith dialogues, and panel discussions. The first public forum will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5 in room 150 Hawthorn at Penn State Altoona, which is free and open to the community.

“Many of the people that Penn State Altoona serves have never had the opportunity to be presented with a factual account of Muslim lives,” notes Valerie Stratton, head of the Division of Education, Human Development and Social Sciences. “In many instances, Dr. Monsoor may be the first foreign-born Muslim her audience has ever encountered. She has a tremendous opportunity to help shape or reconstruct their impressions of the Muslim world.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States Department of State. Since the establishment of the program in 1946, nearly 44,700 Fulbright Visiting Scholars have conducted research or taught in U.S. universities, and more than 42,800 Fulbright U.S. Scholars have engaged in similar activities abroad. The program operates in more than 150 countries worldwide to help promote mutual understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries of the world.


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