Engaged with the Muslim World
Five Washington College students and two professors traveled this fall to Morocco for the second annual Conference on the Muslim World, an event sponsored in part by the College’s Program in Islamic, Turkish, and Near Eastern Studies (part of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture). The conference brought together some of the most influential names in Middle Eastern studies for three days of presentations and discussion of changes in the Muslim world, October 31 through November 2.
The conference was held at Al Akhawayn University, in the mountain resort town of Ifrane, and drew 40 international guests at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. The Washington College delegates joined participants from other colleges and universities around the world—including Harvard, Grenoble Institute of Politics, University of Edinburgh, and Faith University (Istanbul) to learn about and debate topics affecting the Muslim world, from gender to the Arab Spring.
“This dialogue is critical in breaking down barriers between the Muslim and Christian worlds,” says Tahir Shad, associate professor of political science and international relations at Washington College and one of the conference organizers. “There is a lot of misperception between the East and West, and there is no better way to combat that than person to person.”
In planning the conference, Shad collaborated with his College colleague Joseph Prud’homme, associate professor of political science, to reach out to professional and academic contacts. “The conference took a tremendous amount of time to plan,” says Prud’homme. “Arranging such a diverse group of participants brought from universities around the world was a challenge, but it made the conference very rewarding.”
Joining professors Shad and Prud’homme at the conference were students Robert Billings ’14, Alison Percich ’15, Katherine Young ’15, Dominic Lathos ’15, and Emma Way ’16. Percich earned special praise for her presentation on the country of Bahrain and was selected as the undergraduate representative for the Global Association for the Study of the Muslim World, an association formed as a result of the conference.
“The conference was an exciting, engaging, and intense three days of discussion on systemic changes in the Middle East, and our students performed really well,” says Shad. “Faculty from other universities asked if they were graduate students.”