A renowned Canadian Muslim scholar is scheduled to speak at SMU on April 11, 2012. Dr. Ingrid Mattson is currently the Director of Duncan Black McDonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, where she is also Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations. She was the first female convert to serve as Vice-President of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) for two terms, and President for another two terms between 2001 and 2010.
Born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, Dr. Mattson was raised as a Catholic but converted to Islam during college, while studying in Paris, France. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999. As an activist, she developed and implemented a mid-wife training program for Afghan women during 1987-8, was a member of the Interfaith Taskforce of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships between 2009 and 2010, and founded the first Muslim chaplaincy program in America- the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary, in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Duncan Black McDonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations "is the country's oldest center for such study." (Center's website) Committed to initiating mutual understanding and respect between Islam and Christianity, the center uses academic research and teaching to encourage dialog and toleration. More than ten years ago, the Islamic Chaplaincy program was founded to fill a gap in the American Muslim community where Muslim chaplains are needed to work alongside Christian and Jewish chaplains in hospitals, universities, prisons, and the military. Anytime the religious needs of American Muslims in public and private institutions emerge, Muslim chaplains prove to contribute valuable resources on the ethical and spiritual discourse. Muslim chaplains work with their community beyond the walls of masajid (mosques) by representing the voice of their faith, through delivering emotional, spiritual answers to people's concerns, especially when these people are at their lowest times.
Dr. Mattson has authored many articles, academic papers, book reviews, as well as a book, The Story of the Quran: its history and place in Muslim life, that became a widely-used textbook on Islamic sacred scripture. Her academic writings include topics on Islamic ethics and law, religious leadership, the Quran, poverty, slavery, charity and adoption. She lectures widely and nationally to academic and general audiences, and is frequently consulted by media, government, and civic organizations. Dr. Mattson has been recently appointed as Chair of Islamic Studies at Huron University College's Faculty of Theology, where she will start her appointment this July. Dr. Stephen McClatchie, Principal of Huron University College, said:"We are honored that, with her pick of many positions around the world, Dr. Mattson has decided to return to Canada and accept our appointment to the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies."