-- Program Will Continue the College’s Bridge-Building Between
Ethnic and Religious Groups in Historical Conflict --
FLUSHING, NY, April 11, 2011 – Located in America’s most ethnically diverse county, Queens College has received national and community recognition for its trailblazing efforts to grapple with the deep-rooted issues that divide people. The method? Difficult dialogs: Using the light of education to train people, one at a time, to listen with an open mind and “walk in the other’s shoes.”
“We have made a fundamental decision to be a place noted for its ability to tackle seemingly irresolvable issues,” says Queens College President James Muyskens. “The work done by Professor Mark Rosenblum to build bridges between Muslims and Jews—not just at QC but far beyond our campus—set the standard and has become a model for other institutions. Our new Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding, which he heads, has expanded the mission to all groups who are in conflict.”
Dedicated to embracing and understanding the complexity and vitality of our increasingly interconnected world, Queens College is placing a greater emphasis on education abroad and international exchanges. Consistent with this mission, administrators decided to focus each year on the history, art, culture and contributions of a different country. The program launched in fall 2010 with the “Year of China.” Events included lectures and seminars by renowned scholars, as well as exhibitions, art installations, and music and dance performances. In addition, the college now participates in an exchange program for students, faculty and staff with Sichuan University in China.
A series of open meetings on campus led to the selection of Turkey, a vibrant country in transition, as the next nation in the “Year of” program, which will launch this fall for the 2011-12 academic year. It will be followed by Years of India, Brazil and South Africa.
In spring 2009, a group of faculty and administrators visited Turkey, meeting with community and academic leaders. “Wherever I went I could feel the energy and confidence of a people who have a long, rich history to look back at, but who also have the confidence of a young nation that knows great things lie ahead for it,” says President Muyskens.
“The Year of Turkey will give Queens College the opportunity to explore some major controversies that far too often have been pushed out of sight and continue to fester,” he continues. “We want to bring to campus the best minds—people who are willing to face these hard-to-discuss issues with clarity and integrity.” And so the college is inviting leaders of the Turkish, Greek and Armenian communities to join faculty, students and
administrators on the Year of Turkey steering committee. “We warmly welcome community members’ perspectives as we move ahead with this very exciting program,” says President Muyskens.
Professor Rosenblum will be reaching out to Turkish students on campus to get them involved with his Center during the Year of Turkey. “We have a large, active population of Greek students,” he says, some of whom his Center has trained as facilitators to engage others in difficult dialogs. “But right now we have no Turkish or Armenian students working with us. It is my highest priority this semester to bring our Greek, Turkish and Armenian students together to begin the conversation and establish relationships.”
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), founded in 1937, is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Its more than 20,000 students come from over 150 nations and speak scores of languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment. Located on a beautiful, 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. Each year Queens College has been cited by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 100 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. In addition, U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges (2011) ranks QC among the top 10 public universities in its category “Best Universities—Master’s (North).” The college opened its first residence hall in August 2009. More info on Queens College at www.qc.cuny.edu .