The fifth programme of Open Lectures is now under way at the Al-Maktoum College and, once again, I am pleased to say that we have been successful in attracting pre-eminent speakers from home and overseas.
The free lectures – introduced in 2010 – have proved to be hugely popular while maintaining the College’s high profile at local, national and international level.
Our aim is to offer a variety of informative and thought-provoking topics presented by prominent scholars in their field of expertise.
Pleasingly, many distinguished academics have taken the path to Dundee for the lectures that attract a lot of interest from the local community who welcome a unique opportunity to discuss with experts various aspects of Islam or religion from different perspectives.
Our audiences come to listen, to discuss and to ask telling questions.
Without a doubt, each guest speaker has brought insight, intellect, thoughtfulness and profound subject knowledge to Dundee and I have been intrigued and excited by the lectures from these experts, some of whom have travelled a great distance to be with us.
I earnestly believe the series of lectures over the past five years have been very useful in a number of ways.
I am happy to repeat that they reflect a factual and correct image of the College: that it is not a sectarian, faith-based or ideologically-driven college, but merely an academic and research oriented higher education institution that demonstrates a wide range of approaches to Islam and Muslims across the world.
The lectures help to raise awareness and mutual understanding, not only amongst local academics and ethno-religious communities but also at a global level as the public lectures are recorded and disseminated through our website and other digital media platforms such as YouTube.
The format is straightforward with each speaker offered up to an hour to address an audience made up of a wide cross section of society: from academics to students, community groups and individual members of the public who simply find the topics both stimulating and enlightening.
The questions from the floor are never less than considered and compelling, generating excellent discussion – and, yes, arguments. But differences of opinion are to be valued.
At the end of each lecture, we provide nibbles and refreshments so the discussions can continue. No-one is ever in a rush to leave.
The Open Lectures prove that there is an appetite for knowledge, debate and questioning, lots of it. The topics are carefully selected to be wide-ranging, relevant and invigorating – and I can assure you they are never dull. And several topics have attracted traditional print, broadcast and online media interest.
As Principal I am certain these Open Lectures do, indeed, open doors to further study or investigations by those who attend, and that is extremely gratifying.
The next lecture in the current programme takes place on Thursday, October 22 and features Professor Humayun Ansari from Royal Holloway, University of London, who will present a lecture on: “The Historical Tapestry of British Muslims Experience: origins, development and diversity.”
As the Professor of Islam and Cultural Studies and the Director of the Centre for Minority Studies at the Department of History, Professor Ansari will challenge the prevalent perception that British Muslims as a homogenous group are broadly resistant to modern values.
The lecture will be held at the College at 6 pm.
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