Leadership Skills Workshop
The primary objective of this programme is to start a process of integrating students’ learning in the development of leadership skills congruent with today’s fast paced organisational requirements. The programme provides practical leadership skills for communicating, influencing and motivating across cultures, managing change and deepening individual impact within society. It builds on self-awareness, awareness and openness to others' points of view and the ability to adapt communication and leadership styles across cultural, religious and ethnic differences. The programme links theoretical knowledge with practical application, allowing time for practice and feedback.
Research Design and Methods (Terms one and two)
The purpose of this module is to equip students with the necessary background knowledge and skills to proficiently plan and undertake a research activity within the field of the Social Sciences. The module will begin with a short introduction on the intellectual history of the Social Sciences, including a critical overview of the debates and developments surrounding some of the involved disciplines. The module will then undertake an in-depth examination of issues and approaches to Qualitative research design, taking into account the most recent advances in the field. The module will then focus on the development of a number of key practical skills, including the design of research questions and proposals, literature reviews, surveys, fieldwork activities, data collection and analysis. The module will also involve a series of practical exercises, resulting in the drafting of a comprehensive research proposal that the students will employ for their upcoming Field Project. The module will also examine techniques and approaches for writing a professional-level research paper, thus enabling students to proficiently translate their Field Project experience in an academic piece of excellent standard.
Ismailis in Modern Times (Term one)
This module explores the key events, personalities and texts that have shaped the history of Ismaili communities in the modern period (from the late modern period, roughly late eighteenth century until present day) and considers the continuing relevance, perception and impact of this legacy on today’s concerns. The emphasis will be on situating Ismailis within the larger framework of the ummah and other global communities. How do theories in political and social theories related to transnational communities, global and local communities and minorities apply to Ismailis around the world? Particular attention will be paid to regional studies of Ismailis residing in different parts of the world, following diverse traditions. Adequate attention will also be paid to the Imamate of Aga Khan IV; the work of Imamat and Jamati institutions and its subsequent impact on the social, economic and educational development of the community.
Law, Ethics and Society (Term one and three)
This module aims, first, at bringing clarity into the use of notions such as ethics, morality, religious law, positive law and other similar categories which are widely used. It would then offer an introduction to the emergence, during what is called the “Axial Age”, of important questions about the universe, the place of humanity in it, the meaning of life and the norms that should guide the behaviour of human beings. The ways through which those questions were addressed by various individuals and circles, some invoking the sole authority of reason, while others claiming some form of inspiration, be it religious revelation or mystical intuition, will be discussed. The processes through which some of these answers were institutionalised and gave birth to specific regulation systems and to the erection of particular social orders or political systems will also be examined. The module will conclude by highlighting the idea of a sharp division between “is” and “ought”, as it emerged in the 18th century, and how this idea has brought an important shift to the discussions, in our time, about ethics, law and the social order.
Prophet Mohammed and Imam Ali in the Discourse of Muslim Communities (Term two)
The module aims first of all to position the Islamic notions of prophecy in the wider context of the modes of divinations found across many cultures and particularly in ancient Near East. It shall then examine our knowledge of Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali as historical personalities. In this regard, various historical interpretations by modern scholars, including debates about Muslim sources and revisionist versions of the history of early Muslim period, will be explored. A study of the changing image of Prophet Muhammad in mainstream Muslim sources, and with it the changing theological doctrines will also be undertaken. The module will analyse the diverse ways in which the image of Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali have become integral to Muslim and Shi‘i Muslim identity, respectively. The module explores various ways in which their memory is celebrated, invoked and appropriated in rituals, poetry, everyday language and political symbolism. The module will also look at the role of the Prophet and Hazrat Ali as an intercessor, their depiction in the hagiographic imagination, poetry, painting and as a mystical paradigm. The module will then examine the ways in which the figure of the Prophet has come to be a central and sensitive element of Muslim identity in contemporary times, while exploring current psychological research on the notion of prophecy. At the end of the module the students should be able to revisit the current widespread understanding of prophethood and approach it in its historical shifting and contested context.
Intellectual Traditions in the History of Muslims (Term two)
This module aims at shedding light on fundamental currents of thought which prospered in the History of Muslims, by taking stock of recent advances in scholarship. Traditional historians of Islam used to focus on religious learned traditions and their role in shaping the social order and in facing, supporting or opposing those who seize political power. However, recent historical studies – particularly some works which attempted to build a comprehensive understanding of the whole spectrum of cultural developments in Muslim contexts, such as those by Marshall Hodgson and Mohamed Abed Jabri – have highlighted the diversity of intellectual traditions which thrived in predominantly Muslim environments, their interactions and their role in shaping intellectual outlooks among the elites as well as key aspects of the everyday life within the population at large. The module will offer an understanding of the continuities that link those traditions with areas of interest and disciplines cultivated in the history of kind across cultural and religious divides, as well as the diversity of forms and expressions these traditions have taken. Geographical and periodical classifications will be objects of close scrutiny in order to uncover assumptions that they may convey, and in order to help situate intellectual traditions which emerged in Muslim contexts within the wide framework of humanity’s intellectual development.
Art, Literature and Religion (Terms two and three)
The course will explore the literary and artistic dimensions of the world's Muslim societies, focusing on the role that literary genres (scriptures, panegyrics, love lyrics, epic romances, folk songs and folk tales) and the arts (music, dance, drama, architecture, calligraphy, miniature painting) play as expressions of piety and socio-political critique. Broadly speaking, it will explore how works of literature and art function with a given society and ways in which culture is produced, interpreted, and disseminated. A primary objective is to examine the relationships between religion, literature, and the arts in a variety of historical and cultural contexts. To accomplish this objective the course should, through the use of case studies, highlight ways in which Arabic and Persian literary and artistic traditions have profoundly influenced the frameworks within which Islam, its texts, its rituals and practices have been interpreted and expressed. It will also explore the manner in which Arabic and Persian literary and artistic traditions interacted with those beyond the Middle East as Islam became a global religious tradition. This will illustrate how a literary and artistic approach to studying a religious tradition allows access to voices and interpretations that are often unheard, rendered marginal or declared “heretical” by those who claim to represent “official” religious institutions. From a pedagogical perspective, the use of literature and the arts as lenses to explore Islam and Muslim societies offers students a great variety of access to the subject matter through their preferences of learning styles and stimulation of empathetic responses, all of which facilitate deeper levels of understanding of a complex subject. Assignments for the course will also encourage creativity among students through the incorporation of learner-centred projects.
Philosophy of Religion (Term three) Lecture Series
This lecture series is intended to develop the kind of analytical thinking which is relevant to the concepts found in religious discourse. The relation between religious and secular culture is explored and the terms, themselves, analysed. Students read major philosophers whose ideas have had an explicit or tacit relationship to issues of importance in religion. These will range from Plato and Aristotle, through representatives of the medieval philosophical tradition common to the scriptural faiths, to philosophers who have been influential in the shaping of the modern world, from Hume and Kant to Heidegger and Wittgenstein.