Opening the Door to Conversations about Islam and Current Events

Middle and Upper School students and faculty welcomed Carolyn Brunelle, a guest speaker from the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, February 3. Brunelle discussed Islam and provided students with an opportunity to learn more about the religion and to ask questions. Middle School students heard a presentation called “Islam: Unity and Diversity,” while Brunelle offered an assembly for Upper School students titled “Dissecting the Headlines: Islam, Islamophobia, and Religious Extremism.” Brunelle also visited Chester Reagan Chair Priscilla Taylor Williams’ Interfaith Conversations class and History Teacher Judy van Tijn’s AP Comparative Government class for course-specific seminars.

“Following the attacks in Paris in November, it became apparent that many of our students wanted and needed a space to learn about and discuss current events,” said History Teacher Jake Greenberg. “As the shooting in San Bernadino reinforced, there were many students who wanted to know more about the connections between Islam and terrorism. With the support of administration and the Religion Department, I was able to secure a speaker to hopefully allow us to open a door to deeper conversations and allow students to debrief.”