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DATE: DEc. 12, 2005

UM-Dearborn receives $100,000 grant from Ford Foundation for "Difficult Dialogues"

DEARBORN---The University of Michigan-Dearborn has received a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation as part of the foundation's Difficult Dialogues initiative, created in response to reports of growing intolerance and efforts to curb academic freedom at colleges and universities.

UM-Dearborn and a program on the Ann Arbor campus were among 27 institutions selected for the grants in national competition that drew more than 675 proposals.
"The program was created in response to reports of growing intolerance and efforts to curb academic freedom at colleges and universities," according to a statement from the Foundation. "The goal is to help institutions address this challenge through academic and campus programs that enrich learning, encourage new scholarship and engage students and faculty in constructive dialogue about contentious political, religious, racial and cultural issues."

UM-Dearborn's project, titled "Dearborn Legacy, Dearborn Promise: New Learning Across Race, Religion, Culture and Ethnicity," will begin next semester with a series of faculty and course development activities. Over the next two years, the project will develop a series of courses, public lectures and related activities addressing the racial divide; religious diversity and intolerance; and issues of Middle Eastern identity, politics and culture relevant to our campus and regional community.

"The residents of this region are highly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and religion, while at the same time, the Detroit area remains one of the nation's most racially and economically segregated," according to UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little. "This campus recognizes the legacy of the region and has been developing an academic infrastructure to increase our capacity for meaningful, difficult dialogue as we construct new learning across race, culture, religion and ethnicity."

The Ford Foundation launched Difficult Dialogues in April 2005 as part of a broader, $12 million effort to understand and combat anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry in the United States and Europe. It builds on the foundation's other forms of supporting colleges and universities to foster more inclusive campus environments and to engage effectively with the growing racial, religious and ethnic diversity of their student bodies.

"Colleges and universities are uniquely suited to expand knowledge, understanding and discussion of controversial issues that affect us all," said Susan V. Berresford, president of the Ford Foundation. "The selected projects illustrate the thoughtful and creative ways institutions are promoting intellectually rigorous scholarship and open debate that is essential to higher education."

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