The Institute of Ismaili Studies, in collaboration with Emory University, conducted its first residential Summer Programme on Islam for university students from July 21-August 3, 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Thirty-two students from across North America participated in the intensive two-week residential course.
Lecturers from Duke, Emory and Harvard universities as well as faculty from the IIS facilitated day and evening sessions over the course of the interdisciplinary Programme. Gordon Newby, Chair of the Institute for Comparative and International Studies, Emory University, welcomed the participants and gave the first lecture entitled “Islamic Studies in the West”.
The programme itself was organised around three sequential tracks which were aimed at providing the participants with a contextual and graduated introduction to the subject matter. Track 1 acted as a social, cultural and civilisational introduction to Islam. Track 2 explored contemporary themes and issues related to Islam and Modernity. The final track situated the Ismaili tariqah within the context of Muslim history. Particular attention was given throughout the Programme to include source material and intellectual perspectives from areas such as Shi‘ism, which have hitherto received relatively little attention. The Summer programme was concluded by a keynote address delivered by Dr Aziz Esmail, a member of the Institute’s Board of Governors.
The participants, enrolled in North American universities, came from a multitude of disciplines ranging from math to music and political science to philosophy, allowing them to contribute tools and perspectives from a wide-range of backgrounds. Many of the participants stated they would happily “do it over again”.