New Course Focuses on Islam and the Internet

Posted: August 13, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

In keeping with the increased interest in Islam spurred by last fall’s terrorist attacks, Stephen Ruth, a professor in the School of Public Policy, will present a new graduate course this fall, Islam and the Internet: Telecommunications and Technology in the Muslim World. The course examines the diffusion of Internet and other information technologies in the more than 50 countries where Islam is the predominant religion.

The course, which focuses on the public policy ramifications of the Internet Age, is part of a series of semester-long seminars that examine the problems inherent in coaxing profitability from information technology. Topics to be explored include how the increasing use of the Internet and electronic commerce in delivering government services will change standards of living in the Muslim world; how serious of a problem the digital divide presents and what can be done to alleviate its effects; what economic effects broadband proliferation may have in Muslim nations; and what role telemedicine and other Internet interventions will play in reducing death rates due to starvation in the world’s poorer countries.

“It’s a very interesting body of knowledge,” says Ruth, who has assembled a broad range of materials to be supplemented by guest speakers with regional and technical expertise. Ruth will make extensive use of online resources and student-centered research projects in the course, using a blend of audio, visual, web-based, and traditional lecture approaches. Half of the class meetings will take place in a traditional setting and the other half will meet through distance learning settings.

The course is open to graduate students from all disciplines, and no previous technology or public policy course work is required. For more information, see the course syllabus or contact Ruth at ruth@gmu.edu.

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