A center for academic research and scholarship related to science in Muslim societies has been established at Hampshire College.
While research centers and academic programs for general study of Islam and Muslim societies exist at other colleges and universities, the Hampshire center is unique in its approach and focus on science, says Salman Hameed.
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Professor Hameed, who teaches integrated sciences and humanities and has been working on understanding the reception of biological evolution in the Muslim world, has been named director of the new Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies (SSiMS).
"There is an increasingly urgent need for understanding and education about Islam and Muslim societies," said Hameed. "This is perhaps the only center focused on examination of intersections and interactions between science and Muslim societies, (both in Muslim-majority countries and in Muslim diasporas in the West. It will bring together scholars working across disciplines on a significant set of questions and issues."
At a time when science is becoming increasingly important in everyday life and for economic development, it is important to understand how it is understood and taught, and the role it plays in various Muslim societies, where religion plays a significant cultural role, Hameed said.
"This relationship with science is complex, and increasingly so, as science is freighted with issues of colonialism, modernity and progress, as well as moral and religious implications."
SSiMS builds on and extends work already being completed at the college: Hampshire hosted a fall 2009 international conference on Darwin and Evolution in the Muslim World. A separate research project, funded by the National Science Foundation and being conducted by professors at Hampshire, Northeastern, and McGill University, is studying the acceptance of biological evolution and perspectives on science and religion among Muslim physicians and medical students in eight different countries. An ongoing Science and Religion lecture series brings top scholars to campus to speak on a wide variety of issues, with some of the lectures related to Islam and science.
SSiMS research will be interdisciplinary, with a mission of building knowledge and understanding of how social, political, historical, and religious factors influence—and are influenced by—the methodologies and findings of science. Perspectives from science, the humanities, and social science will be integrated, with scholars working across fields.
One goal of SSiMS is expanded course offerings in collaboration with faculty across the consortium, which offers a Five College Certificate Program in Middle Eastern studies. Another goal is to host young research fellows in a variety of fields who are interested in the study of science in muslim societies.
"The center will build on Hampshire's existing strengths in science education and our interdisciplinary approach to research and pedagogy," said Hameed.
To learn more about Hampshire's Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies, contact Professor Salman Hameed, firstname.lastname@example.org.