A Project of Teaching for Change





Most teaching resources and teacher workshops about Islam and Muslims focus on increasing knowledge of religious texts, beliefs, and rituals rather than addressing the root causes of Islamophobia. This project addresses that gap by placing Islamophobia firmly within a U.S. context and shared cultural history.

The lessons are designed to avoid the need for a facilitator with specialized knowledge in Islamic studies. The lessons do not teach the details of Islamic faith and practice because Islam is not the root of Islamophobia. Our lessons invite learners to think differently by investigating Islamophobia as a form of racism born from empire.

Challenge Islamophobia is a project of Teaching for Change.

Memorial to a 2017 hate crime in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca.

Memorial to a 2017 hate crime in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca.



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Alison Kysia, Project Director

Alison Kysia directs the Challenge Islamophobia Project at Teaching for Change. Kysia is an educator who writes curricula on topics in U.S. history, world history, and Islamic studies. She is the outreach coordinator at the Institute for Middle East Studies at the George Washington University where she designs and manages public humanities programming. Her curricula writing portfolio includes the Zinn Education Project, HR Educators USA & Amnesty International, Unity Production Films, and Qatar Foundation International. Kysia has 20 years of teaching experience in a variety of settings, including a residential abuse therapy program for teenage girls, English as a Foreign Language classrooms, an urban community college, interreligious adult education audiences, and K-12 teacher professional development workshops. Kysia holds a BA in Race, Class, and Gender Studies and a MA in History.  

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Margari Aziza Hill, Advisor

Margari Aziza Hill, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, is an advisor on the Challenge Islamophobia Project. The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) was founded in 2014 to advance racial justice inside and outside Muslim communities in the United States. MuslimARC provides anti-racism trainings and educational resources that illuminate the intersections of racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. Since its founding in 2014, MuslimARC leaders, trainers, and collaborators have reached over 20,000 people in more than 45 cities through workshops, panels, lectures, and keynotes for audiences of media producers, educators, artists, scholars, philanthropists, students, and policy experts. Margari spent hours in conversation with us about the lesson plans: shaping the objectives, curating teaching resources, and critically analyzing curricular choices. Her expertise and insight have greatly enriched the project.


Homayra Ziad, Advisor

Homayra Ziad, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Program in Islamic Studies at Johns Hopkins University, has been a critical thought partner on the Challenge Islamophobia Project. After a doctorate from Yale, she was Assistant Professor of Islam at Trinity College. She then led education on Islam and engagement with Muslim communities at an interfaith educational non-profit in Baltimore, where she helped teachers, activists and emerging religious leaders explore the intersections of religion and social justice. She speaks regularly to raise public awareness of Islam and Islamophobia and serves on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland. She remains committed to the pedagogy of community-based learning. Homayra has fifteen years of experience in interreligious education and programming and was founding co-chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Group. She is co-editor of Words to Live By: Sacred Sources for Interreligious Engagement (Orbis Press, 2018). She has written for many academic and popular venues, and consulted and created programs for film and media.



In addition to the over 400 educators who participated in and provided critical feedback on Challenge Islamophobia Project lessons through teacher workshops, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the teachers who invited us to their classrooms to hear students’ thoughts and suggestions.

After presenting a lesson in Fatemeh Hosseini's class, one of the students made this pin to symbolize what she learned.

After presenting a lesson in Fatemeh Hosseini's class, one of the students made this pin to symbolize what she learned.

Neha Singhal
Social Studies Teacher
John F. Kennedy High School
Silver Spring, MD
Montgomery County Public Schools

Kadijah Kemp
Social Studies Teacher
McKinley Middle School
Washington, DC 
District of Columbia Public Schools

Nicole Hindert
Professor of Sociology
Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria, VA

Julian Hipkins, III
Global Studies Coordinator
Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School
Washington, DC
District of Columbia Public Schools

Michael V. Williams
Social Studies Teacher
John F. Kennedy High School
Silver Spring, MD
Montgomery County Public Schools

Fatemeh Hosseini
Visiting Professor
Women and Gender Studies
Georgetown University
Washington, DC.

Amy Trenkle
Alice Deal Middle School
Washington, DC
District of Columbia Public Schools



Our Challenge Islamophobia project is made possible thanks to the generous contributions
of the following foundations and individuals. Thank you.


California Charitable Foundation
Robert W. Deutsch Foundation
Betty Lee & Dudley P. Digges Memorial Fund
Emergent Fund, a partnership between Solidaire Network, Women Donors Network,
Threshold Foundation, and the Democracy Alliance


Karen Abouraya
Sarah Archer-Beck
Barbara Barnes
Rabbi Geoff Basik
Holly Beal
Ellen Bigler
Monet Cooper
Rebecca Cooper
Zoe Couacaud
Margy Elliott
Lisa El-Zein

Todd and Martha Ethington
Kathryn Gaab
Hazel Gomez
Kathleen Gordon
Ilsa Govan
Kirsten Jacobson
Ida Jones
Nancy and Omar Kader
Ghazala Khan
Kulsoom Khan

Paula Kurrus
Alisha and Eric Lacey
Jay Levy
Asia Lyons
Mohannad Malas
Hannah McMillan
Agnes Meo
Renate Milewich
Younus Mirza
Levita Mondie
Julie and Sam Mudrick

Rachel Mumford
Richard Reiches
Judy Richardson
Emily Roderer
Kyrstin Rogers
Eliza Selander
Leslie Steed
Bernice Steinhardt
Ruth Tamaroff and Michael O'Hara
Zeenat White
Ingrid Yance



I learned that there are a lot of powerful Black Muslims who have changed the world.

Great facilitation, very deep discussion. I am so glad I attended this session. Perfect.

I never heard of Latinx Muslims.

Even though I am Muslim, I now see how bigotry can affect different Muslims differently.

I didn’t know Sikhs were being attacked so much. Islamophobia doesn’t just hurt Muslims.

I loved participating in an actual lesson that is ready to use in the classroom and brainstorming with educators on different ways to implement the activity. Anytime you can give a teacher a lesson to take back, it will be a successful PD.

I learned that if we want a sustained conversation about hate, we have to start with conversations about race, racism, and privilege.

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Support the Project

Do you want to share Challenge Islamophobia Project lessons and teaching strategies with more teachers and students? Sponsor a workshop now.

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