‘How Do We Develop a Culture of Peace?’

A Kent State educator shares her belief that education and mutual respect are key in understanding and combating anti-Muslim sentiment

One of the many take-aways from the Dialogue and Difference program "Understanding and Combating Islamophobia" was that overcoming Islamophobia and other forms of racism and bigotry may be as simple as remembering the lessons we should have been taught as children. "If we start with the basics, we should also respect diversity, especially diversity of religions and beliefs. Something as simple as that is a call for mutual respect."

Recognize Islamophobia


This virtual presentation, "Understanding and Combating Islamophobia" was introduced by Talea Drummer-Ferrell, Ph.D., associate vice president and dean of students in Kent State's Division of Student Life, moderated by Sandra Morgan, director, strategic partnerships and outreach, and signed in American Sign Language by students of Jamie McCartney, Ph.D., associate professor and program coordinator in Kent State's School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences.

Rising  Islamophobia

Lydia Rose, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at Kent State University at East Liverpool, presented the topic, the urgency of which comes with what she observes to be a rise in visibility of American Muslims in the U.S. that  has brought on a new wave of hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment. Rose feels combating Islamophobia is part of the movement to be anti-racist and overcome structural racism. 

Defining Islamophobia

She shared her background, information about her family and her roots – and also why she was presenting today. "I want to start off with the position of who I am and why I'm doing this talk," she said. "Partly because I'm Muslim is one thing, but I'm a sociologist as well. I always take a sociological perspective in all things, even things that are personal."

Rose presented a brief overview that included a timeline of Islam and Muslim-Americans in U.S. society beginning with Muslims in America from enslavement practices beginning in 1619, the rise of the Nation of Islam, and noted American Muslims, like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.  She also provided background on topics of immigration waves in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Asia, the 9/11 attacks, the implementation of the “Muslim ban” during the Trump years, and current conflicts in the Middle East.

Muslim Ban is Racist Sign


‘Islam provides a complete way of life’

"Islam is a religion of love and peace," Rose said. "Islam provides a complete way of life. It provides guidance in aspects such as your health, environment, your faith, how to worship, as well as morality, the right, the wrong, the good – those kinds of things are all taught within our religion."

The Kent State Muslim Student Association raising awareness in 2018
Kent State's Muslim Students' Association creates a space for students to bond a grow in spirituality and tradition and also works to promote education and awareness on campus. 


She reviewed the tenets and traditions of Islam, the Quran, the Prophet Muhammed, daily prayers, fasting and the month of Ramadan and what is good, called "halal," and what is bad, called "haram."

Overview of Islam


Her family, respect and "the talk"

Recently, the United Nations designated March 15 as an International Day to Combat Islamophobia: Developing a Culture of Peace. The United Nations’ pillars supporting this initiative are to foster global dialogues, respect for human rights, respect the diversity of religions and beliefs, and call for mutual respect. 

Rose noted how many times the word "respect" occurred in these pillars and recalled times in her her life, and her experiences encountering Islamophobia, particularly with her daughter. Her daughter began wearing a hijab in third grade. 

Lydia Rose and her family
Lydia Rose with her husband and their daughter. 


Once, when there was a bomb threat at her daughter's high school, her daughter told her about what happened to her as she was exiting the school. "Every person walking by had to make some joke about what I did, you know, kind of blaming her for the bomb at the school." Rose said the next day was different, however. "The funny thing is the next day when I picked her up from school, she's like 'Oh, gosh, I think everybody in the school, they got 'the talk,' because I didn't get one Muslim joke today.'"

As she was preparing her presentation, she again, noticed the frequency of the word "respect," and looked it up in the dictionary. In the fifth definition, she found what she was looking for. It was "avoid harming or interfering with."  "I thought, that's the one," Rose said. 

Student walking by respect, kindness and purpose sign on campus


"That's what we mean by respect," she said. "Avoid harming people. Avoid harming them or interfering with their human rights. Avoid harming their religious beliefs and dignity. And, you know, stand up for someone who you see is being harmed or interfered with. And that's the key thing we can think about."

That means having "the talk" with our children and each other. She said that the call that the United Nations has as one of their pillars, the call for mutual respect means "We have to take active steps. That call means we have to do something different than we normally do. If we see something wrong, we need to say 'Hey, that's not nice.'"

About Lydia Rose

Lydia Rose, Ph.D. at home

Lydia Rose, Ph.D., is an associate professor of sociology at Kent State University at East Liverpool. She enjoys embracing and incorporating emerging social issues into the classes she teaches, including environmentalism, health, violence and race. Rose is a passionate steward of the natural environment and had the opportunity to employ her expertise, firsthand, in studying the community impact of the train derailment and chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio.

About the program:

Dialogue and Difference: A New Understanding is a yearlong initiative that will engage our Kent State University community and advance our core values of freedom of expression, respect and kindness in all that we do. The Division of People, Culture and Belonging is partnering with the School of Peace and Conflict Studies and the Division of Student Life to deliver a series of educational programs that will feature diverse perspectives and aims to help us better understand each other.

To view a recording of this presentation, along with some of the other programs in the series, follow this link.

Programs will be added throughout the year. Follow Division of People, Culture and Belonging social media and Faculty/Staff News Now for updates.  


POSTED: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 12:23 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2024 09:53 AM
Phil B. Soencksen
Kent State University Communications and Marketing and Lydia Rose