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Many Muslim Voices: a video series in intercultural understanding

Students at a Muslim IB World School in London

By Sumaya Alyusuf

Many would say we live in turbulent times marked by upheavals in many parts of the world. There is certainly a lot of confusion and misconception regarding the role of religion – especially Islam.

During last year’s IB Global Conference in Toronto, an all-day pre-conference session on ‘Many Muslim Voices’ addressed some of these issues head on. We’re glad to share some of that work more widely, in this three-video series. They offer ‘food for thought’, frameworks for inquiry, and a resource for schools to use in their own journeys towards intercultural understanding. They cast light on underlying assumptions, clarify some misconceptions, and create real opportunities to understand other people and their differences.

The first video features Diane L Moore, the director of the Religious Literacy Project and a Senior Scholar at the Centre for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. Her presentation focuses on understanding religion through the lens of critical theory. After highlighting some common religious illiteracies, she shares tools to use for teaching about religion in contemporary settings.

The second video provides the synopsis of an interactive workshop by Jovanna Scorsone, Education Manager at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, along with Alex Holland, Curriculum Development Manager for the Aga Khan Academies. This video introduces objective-based learning through inquiry into the idea that every object has more than one possible story. It inspires students to think and wonder and connect material culture with both ancient and contemporary stories. Using artifacts from the museum gallery, the workshop demonstrated the value of student engagement with hands-on learning – especially when the learning process is aimed at developing the capacity to connect cultures in a greater global context. The video shares tips for engaging students with works of art (asking open-ended questions, layering information, making connections between information and ideas, and reflecting on personal experience).

In the third video, Naheed Bardai, Head of Middle Division at Upper Canada College, summarizes his presentation on the difference between pluralism and multiculturalism. It offers, from the perspective of an IB World School, examples of teachers and school leaders who embrace diversity and empower members of the school community to express their identities within a framework of shared belonging.  The presentation focuses on the power of debatable questions—as part of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) unit planning process—to address pluralism systematically during everyday classroom interaction. Naheed presents a case study of Islamophobia that engages educators in a thought-provoking discussion of power and privilege.

We’re very grateful to the presenters, the Aga Khan Development Network, Dhahran Ahliyya Schools, and The Advanced Learning School for their contribution to the event. If you use these videos for your own professional learning, teacher professional development in your school, or in an IB workshop, please let us know! Your feedback is always welcome.


Sumaya Alyusuf is a curriculum manager at the IB Global Centre in The Hague, Netherlands.

  • The first video features Diane L Moore, the director of the Religious Literacy Project and a Senior Scholar at the Centre for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. Her presentation focuses on understanding religion through the lens of critical theory. After highlighting some common religious illiteracies, she shares tools to use for teaching about religion in contemporary settings.

  • Development Manager for the Aga Khan Academies. This video introduces objective-based learning through inquiry into the idea that every object has more than one possible story. It inspires students to think and wonder and connect material culture with both ancient and contemporary stories

  • sunitha reddy

    Hi –
    New to IB world. I am looking into joining my 4th grader in an IB school. The school however is a Catholic IB World School. How does IB certify a religious school in terms of curriculum if the underlying base is religion at this school?

  • Mickie

    Dear Sunitha, thanks for getting in touch. The IB works with a variety of faith-based educational systems, all of which use the IB’s curriculum frameworks to meet the needs of their local community, as well as schools that do not have religious orientations. All IB World School subscribe to the organization’s mission, and they share the values of the IB learner profile that include open-mindedness, caring and balance. The IB respects a wide range of perspectives about human religious experience and faith commitments, and its courses promote inquiry, tolerance and the critical appreciation of other points of view. For each school’s specific policies regarding religious practice, parents can contact the school’s administration or IB programme coordinator. Hope this helps, and in case you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch again. Kind regards, Mickie