The Luce Foundation for Theological Education has awarded a $425,000 grant to the School of Divinity to establish a Global Network of Christian-Muslim Studies. The collaborative grant will be administered by the School and the Network is led by Dr Joshua Ralston, principal investigator, and Prof Mona Siddiqui, co-investigator, in conjunction with an international network of scholars and public leaders.
This Global Network will be a platform for interdisciplinary research on the theological, social, and political implications of Christian-Muslim encounters, providing expertise both for the academy and public spheres. The Network aims to explore both the historic flashpoints and the mutually constructive influence of Christianity and Islam on society.
Dr Joshua Ralston, Principal Investigator for the Global Network of Christian-Muslim Studies and lecturer in Christian-Muslim Relations, said, ‘With this generous support from the Luce Foundation, the Global Network can connect interdisciplinary expertise from religious leaders and scholars alike to provide critical expertise on the historic questions that still define Christian-Muslim engagement today.’
The Network is based at the University of Edinburgh’s Divinity School. Scholars from Europe, North America, and Muslim majority countries will gather here for the Network’s inaugural conference, ‘Reframing Christian-Muslim Studies,’ from 4-6 of September 2017.
The scholarly conversation will continue at two additional conferences that will expand the reach of Christian-Muslim Studies academically and geographically – one is set for Beirut in 2018, with a final conference in Atlanta in 2019. Papers from these conferences will be published in English and selectively translated into Arabic to ensure the scholarship can enrich multiple academic and public debates.
‘Islam and Christianity have a rich history of engagement that goes far beyond the narrative of East versus West,’ said Mona Siddiqui, Professor in Islamic and Interreligious Studies and Dean International for the Middle East. ‘There is a great need for scholars, theologians, and commentators to critically engage with this rich heritage which goes beyond sound-bites and platitudes; we live in a world that is paradoxically more integrated yet increasingly polarized.”
To further enhance discourse in the public sphere, the Network will establish a forum for continuing education with local religious leaders, many of whom often find themselves on the front lines of interfaith engagement. The first initiative is a continuing education course for Christian clergy and lay leaders, which will launch from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA., from 1-3 August 2017. Future courses will be held at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta, in Rome, and in Edinburgh.
‘The University of Edinburgh has recognized the growing international importance of Christian-Muslim Studies and responded accordingly as an institution,’ said Professor Paul Foster, Dean and Head of School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. ‘This Global Network can empower scholars at the School of Divinity to share their accumulated expertise not only within academic circles, but also in public forums.’
The launch of this Global Network reflects an institutional commitment to Christian-Muslim Studies at the University of Edinburgh, which admitted the first PhD students to its newly created Christian-Muslim Relations course in autumn of 2016.
For more information about the Network’s ongoing projects, media presence, and public lectures, see www.div.ed.ac.uk