The Muslim Histories and Cultures Project was born out of discussions between His Highness The Aga Khan, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and UT-Austin President Dr. Larry Faulkner in the summer 2002, when His Highness was in Houston for the dedication of a new Ismaili Center. All three agreed on the need for Texans to have a greater understanding of Islamic culture. A series of meetings followed, with the project ultimately finding a home in UT-Austin’s College of Liberal Arts, under the guidance of Dean Richard W. Lariviere, in association with UTeach-Liberal Arts (UT-LA), the college’s secondary teacher preparation program.
The next step involved targeting 15 Texas educators, and inviting them to participate in content instruction, culminating with travel to Europe, Africa, and Asia in July 2003. The group experienced Islamic culture firsthand, and established a personal and professional investment to enhance instruction about Islamic issues statewide.
In April 2004, the AKF and UT-Austin finalized a grant proposal that created the partnership that became known as the Muslim Histories and Cultures Program. Much has happened since the inception of the partnership. After an initial pilot program the decision was made to re-configure the teacher training into three phases: a semester-long seminar, a speaker series, and summer workshop.