This spring, a new anthropology class will tackle how women fare in Islamic society.
Krista Billingsley, a Ph.D. student in cultural anthropology, will teach the class on Wednesdays from 5:45-8:45 p.m. for the upcoming spring semester.
Billingsley bills the class as “women in Islamic society from an anthropological perspective.” The topics will include Muslim politics, the history of Islam, the history of women in Islam, veiling, marriage, human rights and women’s role in the economy, among others.
 In addition, the class will feature a speaker series.
“I hope to host speakers who are either faculty who have had some specialization in Islam, or Knoxville community members who are willing to come and speak to the class,” Billingsley said. “With a once-a-week class, it should give the students some variety during the three-hour period.”
Some of Billingsley’s current students have already demonstrated an interest in the class.
 Emily Hill, freshman in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, said she is interested in taking the class to see how other women in the world live and how they deal with their own issues.
 “I feel like a majority of the United States is very ignorant about Islam, including myself, and I would like to be more educated about it than just learning about it through the media or television,” Hill said. “For instance, I know the women veil themselves, but I don’t know the in-depth reasons or the history behind veiling, and that will be one of the topics in the class. Islamic culture is so different from all the cultures I have ever experienced or learned about. I’m just interested in how things work in political systems based in Islam.”
“I hope to give the students a broader perspective of women in Islam, because it’s not a lumped category,” Billingsley said. “The class will cover an extensively diverse group with different politics and history. I hope that at the end of the day, people will see Muslim women as a diverse group and the reasons why.”
 Leslie Davenport, freshman in nutrition, said she is excited to take the class because of Billingsley’s ability as an instructor.
 “I’m certain her course will be exciting, informative and accurate,” Davenport said. “Being on UT’s campus, I frequently see Islamic female students and I hope Ms. Billingsley’s course will teach me more than I currently know about these women.”
Billingsley said one of her goals for the class is to “eliminate Islamaphobia and to help my students understand more about the religious and political structures of Islam.”
“The more you understand a culture, the more tolerance and acceptance you learn to have.”