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Professor receives American Academy of Religion’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

Zayn Kassam, associate professor of Religious Studies at Pomona College, is the 2005 recipient of the American Academy of Religion’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

Kassam is “an impressive example of dedication to the craft of teaching, especially for her careful and unflinching consideration of issues that often carry a heavy emotional charge for the students she is teaching,” according to the academy's Religion Award Committee. The award was presented in late November at the academy's annual meeting.

Kassam, who began teaching at Pomona College in 1995, chairs the Religious Studies department and teaches a variety of courses, including, “Engendering and Experience: Women in the Islamic Tradition,” “Islamic Thought,” and “Muslim Literary Landscapes.” She has also written several essays on teaching and a variety of articles for a lay audience. Currently she is working on A Student’s Guide to the World Religions: Islam for Greenwood Press.

Students and colleagues alike praise Kassam’s teaching and scholarship. She was awarded Pomona College’s “Wig Distinguished Teaching Award” twice—in 1998 and 2005. Students say: “Class discussions [spill] out of the classroom, into the dining and residence halls, and even onto forums in cyberspace.” One colleague notes Kassam’s ability to address volatile subjects with students in “an environment of candor and honesty.”

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