The DISC initiative utilizes a long-standing, Big Ten Academic Alliance-created, synchronous-learning technology called CourseShare and its administrative framework to increase student access to specialized courses and faculty expertise that are spread across Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions. A committee, formed by over a dozen member institutions of the Big Ten Academic Alliance and administered by the University of Michigan, is working to define, create, and implement a curriculum that will offer a broad set of courses that investigate Islam as a global phenomenon. Committee meetings take place each year in order to develop the curriculum, evaluate the program based on feedback, and determine course clusters for the following year.

This sense of collaboration and community makes DISC a one-of-a-kind program that strives to provide an excellent core curriculum to students in universities where there are few courses, and at the same time allow universities with more extensive course offerings to specialize in a particular area of Islamic studies without having to commit limited resources to the basic curriculum. DISC also ensures that particular Islamic studies courses are offered continually from year to year—something that is difficult for individual universities to do.

The structure of DISC is based on the notion that each course is taught as a cluster composed of a host campus, where the course is physically taught, and distance campuses, where the classroom exists digitally via video-conferencing technology and additional opportunities for virtual and face-to-face interaction. DISC features instructional assistance that incorporates funding and teaching opportunities for graduate students, administrative support, and grants through which existing faculty are given incentives to develop new courses and make course curricula available outside of their home campuses. DISC is administered by a director and supported by an administrator based at U-M, and assisted by faculty members from other Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions. Visit the list of faulty liaisons for individual campus contacts.