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San Francisco Study Group

San Francisco State University
Director Fall 2011: Professor Ayesha Chaudhry, Department of Religion

The San Francisco Study Group, sponsored by the Department of Religion, will focus on the theme of “Islam in America.” This study group will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the histories, cultures, social, and religious structures of American Islam. There are two objectives of this study; the first is to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of the American Islam experience, with a special emphasis on the unique role that Northern California has played developing a harmonious interaction among various American Muslim communities, such as the Sufi, African American convert, White convert, and immigrant communities. The second, more general objective is to enrich students’ understanding of the social processes, such as immigration and globalization, that have historically shaped American religious society and will continue to transform it in the new millennium.


Students will enroll in two courses at San Francisco State University, which has an extraordinarily diverse range of high-quality offerings bearing on religious studies, Asian America, the Pacific Rim, and Latinos, as well as sociology, anthropology, women's studies, and human sexuality. The following list is a sample of some of the courses which students have taken in the past. To earn major, minor, or university credit, elective courses require prior Colgate approval.

Africana and Latin American Studies
History of Raza in the US ALST 000
Raza & Community Organizing ALST 000
Latino Health Care Perspectives ALST 291

Asian Studies
History of Asian Americans ASIA 000

Film and Media Studies
Latino/a Cinema FMST 312

Sociology and Anthropology
Introduction to Archaeology SOAN 103*
Women and Work SOAN 215
Sexuality in Society SOAN 291
Changing Cities SOAN 291
Variations in Human Sexuality SOAN 291
Sociology of Popular Culture SOAN 291
Grassroots Organizing SOAN 391
Families & Society SOAN 391
Queer Cultures & Society SOAN 391*

Women’s Studies
Theories on Female Sexuality WMST 391
Raza Women WMST 391*

*Will not count toward major or minor.

In addition, students take two courses from the director of the study group.

RELG/MIST 328: Experiencing Islam (Prof. Chaudhry)
The seminar will focus on the social, cultural, political, and religious contours of Islam in America as lived in various Muslim communities. Guest lecturers from SFSU and throughout the greater San Francisco Bay region will be brought in for special topics. In addition, several planned class-related activities and field trips will directly relate to the content of the course, especially mosque visits.

RELG 391: Fieldwork and Community Service: Exploring Lived Religion in America (Prof. Chaudhry)
The second course is an independent study that focuses on community service in one or another community in San Francisco. Students' independent projects are based on experiential learning so that students are able to acquire direct knowledge of and experience with one or another community in the area and/or provide valuable service to this wonderfully diverse city and its inhabitants.

Any independent study must have prior approval from the student’s department for major credit.


Students must be at least in their sophomore year to participate in this program.

Library and Research Facilities

Students will have full access to the extensive libraries and research and computing facilities of SFSU. They will also have access to the archives and related resources of other relevant institutions in the area, such as mosques, Berkeley, and the Graduate Theological Union.

Class-related Activities and Field Trips

Class-related activities will include lectures and other presentations by local scholars and artists. Students will also join the study group director for meals, plays, and other cultural events related to the theme of the study group. Field trips in and near the San Francisco area will include visits to local religious institutions.

Living Arrangements

Students will live in furnished, two-bedroom apartment units (four students per apartment) located on or near the SFSU campus. The apartments will be rented through SFSU’s Office of Housing and Residential Services. Students will have the choice of whether or not to participate in one of SFSU’s prepaid meal plans.


Costs above Colgate’s tuition include room and board, travel to and from the study group site, and necessary out-of-pocket expenses. On average, students can expect to spend $2,000–$3,000 more than a semester on campus. These increased costs are used in calculating aid packages for students who receive financial aid, provided this is their first study-group experience. Students who are planning extensive personal travel will need to increase their budget accordingly. For details of student expenses on this study group, please see the website below which also gives information about average personal travel costs.

Estimate Student Expenses San Francisco Study Group


Applications are available from the Dept. of Religion office in 113 Hascall Hall, and the Off-Campus Study office in 101 Lathrop Hall.

There will be two information meetings:
Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, at 1:15 p.m. in 202 Hascall Hall
Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010, at 11:30 a.m. in 203 Lathrop Hall

Applications should be turned in to Dept. of Religion office in 113 Hascall Hall before the application deadline of November 19, 2010. Applicants are asked to write a two to three-page essay describing their general interest in the San Francisco Study Group (SFSG), their specific reasons for wanting to participate in it, how they expect the SFSG experience to build on their previous coursework and interests, and how the SFSG might contribute to their future course work and longer-term educational and professional objectives.

After reviewing these essays and the rest of the material submitted as part of the application process, the director will interview each prospective participant. Interviews will take place during the first part of December. The director hopes to notify applicants of the decision made on their application by mid-January.

Students who are interested in obtaining additional information about the San Francisco Study Group should contact the director, Professor Ayesha Chaudhry (202 Lathrop Hall); e-mail:; phone: 315-228-6621.


Basically following the SFSU calendar, the term will run from the end of August to late December 2012.

Helpful Links

Sponsoring Departments and Programs

General Information

San Francisco State University