University of Iowa

In the news: Hancher leads campus inclusion efforts by ‘Embracing Complexity’

September 21st, 2017
Author G. Willow Wilson will kick off the Embracing Complexity project with an Oct. 8 lecture at Hancher. Throughout the 2017/18 academic year, Hancher's Embracing Complexity programming will take a collaborative approach toward creating an understanding

Author G. Willow Wilson will kick off the Embracing Complexity project with an Oct. 8 lecture at Hancher. Throughout the 2017/18 academic year, Hancher's Embracing Complexity programming will take a collaborative approach toward creating an understanding of contemporary Islamic cultures and Muslim identity. The project will include performances, classes, exhibits, discussions, and lectures. It also will document and explore the experiences of Muslims in eastern Iowa. Photo by Amber French.

By Kate Huber, IowaNow

A new semester is a new beginning.

It provides an opportunity to remind returning students—while also informing new students—that the University of Iowa prides itself on being inclusive. 

“This is a welcoming place, a diverse and dynamic institution strengthened by our differences,” UI President Bruce Harreld said in a message to campus during the first week of classes.

One part of campus leading inclusion efforts this fall is Hancher Auditorium. 

Hancher received a $204,000 grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters for the Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity program—funding to be used to help build greater knowledge and appreciation for arts and culture with roots in Muslim-majority societies.

Throughout the 2017–18 academic year, Embracing Complexity programming will take a collaborative approach toward creating an understanding of contemporary Islamic cultures and Muslim identity. The project will include performances, classes, exhibits, discussions, and lectures. It also will document and explore the experiences of Muslims in eastern Iowa through sharing of local stories and oral histories. 

The goal of the project is to build an understanding of Islamic cultures while creating a greater sense of empathy for the experiences of people from diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, says Hancher Executive Director Chuck Swanson.

“Hancher is a place where we can create opportunities to communicate and celebrate our differences,” Swanson says. “Learning from people with other backgrounds and understanding other cultures helps students succeed in college and beyond, and the University of Iowa is the perfect place to foster these meaningful conversations.”

Author G. Willow Wilson will kick off the Embracing Complexity project with an Oct. 8 lecture at Hancher.

Wilson is the author of The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam, a book that articulates her experience as a white American converting to Islam and her marriage to an Egyptian man in a post-9/11 world. Wilson’s lecture is free and open to everyone.

In addition to kicking off Hancher’s Embracing Complexity initiative, Wilson’s lecture also begins the weeklong Iowa City Book Festival and has been chosen as this year’s selection for the UI Center for Human Rights’ One Community, One Book program.

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