The Institute on Religion and Civic Values (IRCV) is a national, non-profit research center dedicated to increasing religious literacy – that is, knowledge about the world religions and appreciation for religious liberty and pluralism as part of creating a healthy civil society.
IRCV was formerly known as the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), founded in 1991 by Shabbir Mansuri to improve coverage of world history and world religions in K-12 education. Unlike special interest groups that lobby for changes or improvements in coverage of specific constituencies, CIE employed a “non-advocacy” approach to provide the latest academic thinking in history and the social sciences to textbook publishers and educators in a form that served their instructional needs. Shabbir’s non-advocacy model demonstrated that Muslim Americans, like others, had a place at the American table to make contributions for the collective good.
CIE has been a part of the national conversation among education policymakers, curriculum specialists, researchers, scholars and educators regarding world history teaching and teaching about religion in public education. We assessed the leading California History-Social Science Framework, and various world history standards documents produced in the mid/late 1990s. We hosted a series of conferences on world history content, reflecting growing support for the “new world history” produced by contemporary world historians. We reviewed numerous textbooks, aligning this new scholarship with state and national standards to help enrich textbook content. We trained thousands of teachers on the guidelines for teaching about religion produced by the First Amendment Center. We also developed teaching guides and topical units to help teachers introduce new primary sources, learning activities, and critical thinking topics to their students.
Utilizing the non-advocacy model refined during the CIE experience, since 2007 IRCV’s research, consulting, training and resource development work has extended beyond the education arena to encompass areas such as religion in the media, inter-religious education in faith communities, and the place of religion in civil society.