From 21 July to 1 August 2008 AKU-ISMC and the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Cultures and Societies at Simon Fraser University (CCSMSC) held a summer programme in Vancouver, Canada. The summer programme, Expressions of Diversity, aimed to provide a window into the diversity of the cultural and social productions of Muslims, past and present.
International scholars from AKU-ISMC and CCSMSC were brought together to provide course modules which addressed various elements of the history, culture, and contemporary challenges facing Muslims. In this stimulating environment, participants were able to access the resources and skills required to understand the diverse heritage, evolving experiences, contributions to world history and contemporary relevance of Muslim peoples.
The diverse range of courses covered a number of themes including the historical context of Muslim societies, Muslims in Western societies, contemporary debates, ethics, arts and architecture, civil society and the role of mysticism, among others. In addition to this, discussion sessions, a book launch and a film showing formed part of the course.
AKU-ISMC and CCSMSC are ideally situated to provide a critical-historical understanding of Muslims within larger frameworks that recognise the importance of interdisciplinary and comparative approaches, without reducing understanding to issues solely related to religion.
At a time when rigorous and unbiased information concerning Muslims is at a premium, the summer programme was designed as an opportunity for non specialists to obtain timely knowledge, practical skills and critical perspectives.
The short course proved extremely popular and attracted participants from a wide range of backgrounds including students from universities across North America including Harvard, McMaster, McGill, Simon Fraser University, Stanford, University of Alberta and University of British Columbia. Course participants also included educational and business professionals.
Expressions of Diversity: A Summer Programme on Muslim Cultures forms part of AKU-ISMC’s educational offering which includes Certificate Courses as well its distinctive MA in Muslim Cultures, offered from its campus in London. From 2008, the Institute will begin to offer survey and focused short courses on Muslim cultures in London.
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations