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University Of Florida Launching Center For Global Islamic Studies

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An Indian Muslim devotee reads the Quran before breaking his Ramadan fast at the Nallagutta Masjid in Hyderabad on July 23, 2014. (credit: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

An Indian Muslim devotee reads the Quran before breaking his Ramadan fast at the Nallagutta Masjid in Hyderabad on July 23, 2014. (credit: NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — The University of Florida is launching a center for global Islamic studies.

The Gainesville Sun reports that the center has already been approved by university officials and will be announced when UF’s Board of Trustees meet this week.

Officials in the school’s Center for African Studies and the Department of Religion have been working to open the center for a year. They have brought together a cross-section of faculty from religion, science, history, anthropology, languages, literatures and cultures.

“We are very excited about this,” Terje Ostebo, assistant professor at the Center for African Studies and the Department of Religion, told The Sun via email. “There are very few similar programs in the Southeast, and virtually none in Florida. This center will contribute to putting UF on the map.”

Ostebo told The Sun that there was an “urgent need” for such a center as Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world with 1.6 billion followers.

“There is an urgent need for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the rich diversity and the complex dynamics of contemporary Islam,” Ostebo explained to The Sun.

The center is set to launch Sept. 18-19 with a conference on “Global Islam and the Quest for Public Space.”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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