GRCC receives National Endowment for the Humanities award to expand Muslim culture resources

Contact: Kathy Mullins

Executive Deputy to the President and Board Liaison


January 17, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – – Grand Rapids Community College is among 842 U.S. libraries and state humanities councils selected for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Bridging Cultures initiative.

The college will receive a collection of books, films and other resources designed to broaden understanding of the complex history and culture of the Muslim people in the West Michigan community.

“Staff of the Library & Learning Commons is so pleased to bring this exciting collection to GRCC and to share it with our community,” said Patricia Ingersoll, GRCC Library Director. “It’s both an honor and an opportunity for us to lead an exploration of the content.”

Director Ingersoll said GRCC’s longtime focus on diversity was a major motivation for seeking the NEH award: "As a community college, GRCC is uniquely committed to enriching its community through educational and civic programming. These new resources will help us to support some new areas of our college curriculum.”

Here are just some of the ways GRCC plans to tap and share this new resource:

  • collaborations with GRCC’s Woodrick Diversity Learning Center, especially its Diversity Lecture Series.
  • scholar-facilitated discussions of Bookshelf titles.
  • readings of poetry from the Bookshelf during GRCC’s National Poetry Week events in April.
  • film screenings followed by panel discussions.
  • lectures on themes presented through the Bookshelf during the GRCC Race, Ethnicity and Identity Conference.

Grand Valley State University’s Middle East Studies Program in the Frederik Meijer Honors College is partnering with GRCC in organizing programs in support of the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. Professor Coeli Fitzpatrick, coordinator of the Middle East Studies Program, will lead the partnership efforts at GVSU.

“This is the first NEH grant awarded to GRCC, and we are very excited to be among those colleges who received an award,” said Judith Larsen, Director of Grants and Resource Development.

The first in a planned series of Bridging Cultures “Bookshelves,” the Muslim Journeys project is a leading effort in NEH Chairman Jim Leach’s Bridging Cultures initiative, which emphasizes the importance of civility in American life and the role of libraries in fostering community conversations that bring the humanities to the public in new ways.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties. # # #